CAPE CANAVERAL,. Fla. – NASA and Boeing rolled out the Starliner spacecraft, the competitor to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, from the factory Wednesday morning ahead of its orbital test flight.
Starliner was transported to the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, where it was mated to an Atlas V rocket for its May 19 launch.
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The Starliner capsule will be uncrewed for this test flight.
STACKED: @BoeingSpace's #Starliner spacecraft has been placed atop @ULALaunch's Atlas V rocket for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission!— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 4, 2022
Set to launch May 19, Starliner will spend five to 10 days docked to @Space_Station before returning to land: https://t.co/REs5jgck9C
📸: ULA pic.twitter.com/DAgH27x3S8
The capsule is set to travel to the International Space Station and dock before a return to Earth, landing in one of five designated landing zones in the western part of the U.S.
If the test flight is successful, NASA and Boeing will then plan a Crew Flight Test, which will be Starliner’s first mission with astronauts on board.
This will be Starliner’s second test flight, after a malfunction caused the space capsule to miss a key maneuver during its first flight in 2019, preventing it from reaching the I.S.S. and forcing it to land in the desert.
Happening Now: @BoeingSpace's #Starliner spacecraft is currently being transported to the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 to be mated with @ULALaunch's Atlas V rocket for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 4, 2022
🚀 Liftoff is scheduled for May 19. pic.twitter.com/VQn3pnCPQK
Boeing had hoped for a second test flight in 2021, but it was delayed when moisture found its way into the capsule’s service module ahead of a planned launch in August, which combined with oxidizer to make corrosion-causing nitric acid. The process led to 13 of 24 valves in the service module becoming “stuck” and ultimately scrubbed the liftoff atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.