Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has been connected to an Atlas V rocket ahead of its first test flight to the International Space Station which is planned to take place on December 17 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Starliner spacecraft was mated to the rocket’s upper stage at United Launch Alliance’s (ULA), the manufacturer of the Atlas V rocket, Vertical Integration Facility after being transported from Boeing’s assembly building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Starliner and its Atlas V will move to the launchpad on December 15.
Boeing Starliner vice president John Mulholland said, “Our team successfully completed the transport and mating of two incredible vehicles. Safety and mission success come down to ensuring the integrity of every step along the way. I could not be more proud of the Starliner team and the dedication put forward to get here today.”
Starliner and the Atlas V stand 172ft (52m) tall. The rocket generates about 1.6 million lbs of thrust at launch. The Atlas V rocket, which was built in Alabama, USA, has completed 80 successful launches since 2002.
The first Starliner flight to the International Space Station, will only carry cargo for its docked stay. The second test flight, which will use a different spacecraft to take Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, along with NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann to the station is planned for next year .
The reusable Starliner capsule is being developed in collaboration with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which will return America’s ability to launch people to low Earth orbit from American soil for the first time since Ferguson commanded the final space shuttle mission in 2011.