Boeing has played a pivotal role in various space programs like Project Mercury and Apollo, and now, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to build and operate a commercial crew capsule for its astronauts.

Starliner had a successful pad abort test in early November, but the next step might be the spacecraft’s most important one yet.

In December 2019, Boeing will embark on its very first Orbital Flight Test of Starliner, and if it’s successful, it will mean the U.S. will once again be able to launch astronauts from its own soil.

While Starliner is equipped with manual controls as backup, the spacecraft can actually operate entirely on its own without a pilot. The classic triangular-shaped capsule was built to accommodate up to seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo.

Boeing is scheduled to make at least six trips to the International Space Station, shuttling up to four NASA-sponsored crewmembers and cargo. Starliner is built to withstand up to 10 days in space meaning astronauts will return to Earth on the same capsule they arrived on.

And Boeing took the opportunity to add some new tech to the traditional design, decking the capsule out with touchscreen tablet technology and wireless internet for crew interfaces.

Starliner’s upcoming crewed launch will be the first time the Atlas V carries humans to the ISS. If all goes well, the company’s next launch will be its most crucial yet: taking NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson for a historic flight to the ISS.

Find out more about Starliner’s rocket power, launch date, and what makes this capsule different from the rest on this Countdown to Launch.

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"Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft is being developed in collaboration with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "

"Boeing’s space portfolio covers a broad spectrum of innovative

Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Touches Down After Test of Safety System

"Boeing was one of two American companies chosen by NASA to develop spacecraft for flying astronauts to the International Space Station."

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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