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Boeing Starliner’s first crewed mission set to launch Monday after years of delay

By Scott Heidler

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    CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (WESH) — Prelaunch operations for Starliner’s first crewed mission marched forward with the astronauts’ arrival at the Kennedy Space Center, a dress rehearsal completed, and the spacecraft stacked on an Atlas V rocket out near the launch pad.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA leadership are all polling “go” in the launch readiness review Friday morning, and at this stage, the weather forecast for launch time is near perfect.

“We’ve come to the point where we are all in total agreement. You can’t be more confident than that,” said Mark Nappi with Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program.

“Because it is a test flight, we give extra attention. They are checking out a lot of the systems. The life support, the manual control,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson about the mission.

This Crew Flight Test — or CFT — is riding up to orbit atop a ULA Atlas V rocket. It’ll be the first time that an Atlas V rocket will carry humans and the first mission of NASA’s Commercial Crew program from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

SpaceX’s eight missions in the program have all lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center.

Starliner will play an important, although late, role once it joins the rotations with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.

“If something were to happen on station, and there was an emergency or something. We would now have, once we certify Starliner, we would have that capability to have redundant US transportation systems,” said Crystal Jones with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The two test astronauts are NASA veterans, commander Butch Willmore and pilot Suni Williams. A great deal of their eight days docked at the ISS will be focused on testing out the new Starliner.

If everything goes well with this test mission, we could see the Starliner-1 mission in 2025, which will then begin six-month rotations with SpaceX up to the ISS.

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