Boeing Starliner on rocket ahead of May 19 test launch

Launch will be the second unmanned test for Starliner

The Boeing Starliner spacecraft is now on top of a ULA Atlas V rocket ahead of its May 19 launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (NASA, NASA)

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.

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.

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.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.