No bottles of champagne were broken, but Boeing’s CST-100 commercial crew transportation spacecraft officially has a new name. Intended to one day ferry astronauts to the International Space Station – and potentially paying customers to low-Earth orbit – the spacecraft is now known as the Starliner.
One of two manned spacecraft commissioned by NASA as part of the transition to commercial spaceflight, the newly-christened Starliner will be assembled and processed for launch at the revitalized Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA is revamping its shuttle processing hangar, which for 20 years was used to refurbish the Space Shuttles and overhaul their main engines between flights. With work slated for completion in December, it will be the new home for the Starliner with Boeing to use the facility for building the structural test version of the spacecraft.
Though it will never fly, this version will be the focus of a battery of tests culminating in a pad abort test in 2017. In addition, other buildings at the center will be used as Boeing's Launch Control Center and mission support facilities.
After completion of a series of tests and milestones, the Starliner will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-41 atop an Atlas V rocket. Following an unmanned orbital mission, a manned test flight will be launched, before the spacecraft is certified to carry out operational missions carrying a full crew complement.