Boeing’s Starliner Prepares First Human Launch With NASA Astronauts — Here’s How To Watch


Boeing’s Starliner is set to carry astronauts into space for the first time on Monday, a major milestone for the aerospace giant after years of trouble and setbacks as it tries to catch up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX amid NASA’s efforts to nurture commercial partners and grow the budding space economy.

Key Facts

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Monday.

The launch will carry two NASA astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, to and from the International Space Station for a roughly weeklong trip designed to test Boeing’s spacecraft and certify it for regular missions to the orbital lab.

It will mark the first crewed flights for both Boeing’s Starliner and ULA’s rocket.

NASA said liftoff is targeted for 10:34 pm EDT.

It’s also possible to watch the launch in person in Florida, Boeing said, publishing a map of nearby areas where watchers should be able to get a good view, including Cocoa Beach Pier, Kings Park, Kelly Park, Port Canaveral and parks near the Max Brewer Bridge.

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Further Viewing

What To Watch For

Starliner will dock to the forward-facing port of the ISS’s Harmony module at 12:48 am, EDT, on Wednesday, NASA said. The agency said it will provide continuous coverage leading up to the docking, including through hatch opening and welcome remarks, expected at 2:35 am and 3:15 am, respectively.

Key Background

Boeing has a lot riding on this launch. A series of high profile failures and blunders of Boeing aircraft, notably the 737 Max and including several fatal crashes, has put the company under intense scrutiny over the safety and design of its vehicles. The Starliner project, part of a NASA effort to offload ISS launch services to the private sector, has also suffered years of setbacks, including failed test flights, a litany of technical issues and more than a $1 billion in cost overruns. Boeing is well behind its chief competitor, Musk’s SpaceX, which has already taxied numerous crews to the orbital station and has been launching NASA astronauts for years. NASA has said it expects to retire the ISS in 2030, a timeline Bloomberg said means Boeing will only fly six more missions to the station for NASA, at most.

Further Reading

ForbesMeet The Billionaires Helping NASA Return To The Moon
ForbesForget Musk’s Martian Ambition-Jeff Bezos Thinks Humans Should Live In Giant Cylindrical Space Stations

Boeing Starliner Space Capsule Faces a Shaky Commercial Future (Bloomberg)