Boeing Starliner gears up for its maiden uncrewed flight test on Dec 20
The CST-100 Starliner, the passenger spacecraft from Boeing, is gearing up for its first ever uncrewed expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) on December 20.
The lift off is expected to be on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.
Data from the flight test will be used as part of NASA's process of certifying Boeing's crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station, the US space agency said on Wednesday.
The flight test will provide valuable data about the end-to-end performance of the Atlas V rocket, Starliner spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations.
In addition, the Starliner spacecraft will carry about 272kg of crew supplies and equipment to the ISS and return some critical research samples to the Earth.
Boeing's uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT) is the second uncrewed test flight of NASA's Commercial Crew Programme, a partnership with the aerospace industry to launch astronauts on US rockets and spacecraft from US soil for the first time since 2011.
Earlier this year, the SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule completed its historic unmanned flight test to the space station.
NASA selected SpaceX and Boeing to create integrated spacecraft, rockets and associated systems to carry astronauts on NASA missions in September 2014.
Now these companies are building and operating this new generation of human-rated vehicles.