Boeing engineers will become familiar faces to NASA astronauts on Starliner spacecraft

Science Night Live on March 2 features Boeing Starliner engineers

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - The upcoming adults-only Science Night Live at the Orlando Science Center will feature two engineers working on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft -- one of two commercial spacecraft being prepared to launch NASA astronauts again from U.S. soil later this year.

Boeing Starliner engineers Melanie Weber and Louis Atchison will be featured speakers Saturday at the 21-and-up Science Night Live event. For ticket and event information, click here.

Guests at Science Night Live will be able to wear a pair of 360-degree virtual reality goggles to experience a virtual flight on Starliner.

Boeing Starliner engineer Louis Atchison conducting countdown procedures. (Image: Boeing)

Atchinson was a guest on News 6 at Nine Thursday ahead of his speaking event Saturday. Watch the full interview at the top of this story.

Atchinson himself is an aspiring astronaut and will be one of the first people NASA astronauts see when they land in the desert. He directs both the real-time integrated launch countdown and landing site operations for Starliner.

Weber, an aerospace engineer, designs the interior of the spacecraft that supports astronauts and cargo. She will be one of the last people NASA astronauts on board Starliner see before takeoff.

Boeing Starliner engineer Melanie Weber

Boeing is currently targeting April for the first launch of the Starliner capsule without crew. The spacecraft will lift off on a United Launch Alliance workhorse rocket, the Atlas V, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Space Launch Complex 41.

NASA's other commercial crew provider, SpaceX, is planning to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft Saturday morning for the first uncrewed test launch from Kennedy Space Center. If the Demo-1 test flight goes well, SpaceX will be on track to launch Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard in July, according to NASA's Commercial Crew timeline.

According to NASA, Boeing is targeting August for its first crewed flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at Space Launch Complex 41.

When NASA gives Boeing the green light to launch its first mission with crew on board, NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Mike Fincke, along with Chris Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut who now works for Boeing, will be on that first flight.

After launch, the Starliner will dock at the International Space Station and later return to Earth.

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