NASA announced that and Boeing ’s Starliner spacecraft will launch on an uncrewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, December 20.
Launch of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is targeted for 6:36 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s uncrewed flight test will be Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station, which, is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight launches to the space station from American soil on America spacecraft and rockets.
Following its launch , the CST-100 Starliner will reach the ISS in about 24 hours. The vehicle, which is capable of carrying up to seven people per flight, will then dock with the station’s Harmony module. It will remain attached to the ISS until Saturday, December 28, when it will then return to Earth. It is scheduled to land on the ground at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on that Saturday morning, descending to Earth via parachute.
The Starliner will carry some useful cargo with it, however, including a test dummy called “Rosie the Rocketeer,” along with some treats for the astronauts.
The mission, the first time Boeing’s Starliner vehicle will have launched to space, follows years of development and $4.2 billion in funding. Already this year, in March, SpaceX launch an uncrewed test flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle as part of the Commercial Crew Program program.
Both Boeing and SpaceX are hoping to launch humans to the ISS for the first time in 2020 using these vehicles, which will be the first orbital human spaceflights from U.S. soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011.