Boeing’s Starliner astronaut taxi is on the launch pad. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying Starliner rolled out to the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41 early this morning (Dec. 18), using a mobile launch platform 1,800 ft (550 meters) from ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility.
Starliner stays on the monitor to launch towards the International Space Station (ISS) Friday morning (Dec. 20) on its debut check flight; an uncrewed mission referred to as Orbital Flight Test (OFT). “Atlas and MLP are arduous down on the pad. Profitable roll #OFT could be very, very, very close to,” ULA president and CEO Tory Bruno tweeted this morning.
Boeing has been creating Starliner underneath a multibillion-dollar NASA industrial crew contract. SpaceX acquired an identical deal for work on its Crew Dragon capsule. The space company needs these two personal automobiles to fill the astronaut-ferrying footwear of the area shuttle fleet, which retired in July 2011. Ever since then, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have been the one technique of crew transport to and from the ISS.
The eight-day OFT mission is a vital step towards bringing Starliner totally on-line, proving out the capsule’s capabilities throughout a visit to and from the ISS. If OFT is a hit, a crewed demonstration mission to the orbiting lab will observe, possible someday subsequent 12 months.
SpaceX performed its model of the OFT, an uncrewed ISS mission known as Demo-1, this previous March. The California-based mostly firm is gearing up for an in-flight take a look at Crew Dragon’s emergency-escape system in January, which can clear the way in which for a crewed demonstration flight to the ISS for the SpaceX capsule. Starliner and the Atlas V are scheduled to raise off Friday at 6:36 a.m. EST (1136 GMT). There’s only a 20% probability of a climate-associated delay, Air Force officers have stated.