Boeing's Starliner stacked atop launcher ahead of first flight
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft has been stacked atop its United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launcher in preparation for its December 17, 2019 liftoff. Today at ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the assembled vehicle was transported from Boeing's assembly building before being hoisted into place on the rocket's Centaur upper stage.
According to Boeing, now that the Starliner and its launcher have been assembled, it will undergo final tests before rolling out on December 15 to the Space Launch Complex-41 launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station half a mile away. The combined Starliner and the Atlas V that stand 172 ft (52 m) tall will then be fueled for lift-off for the spacecraft's maiden flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
The first mission will be unmanned and will be carrying cargo to the space station during its brief eight-day visit before returning to Earth. This will be followed by a second, longer flight that has yet to be scheduled. It will carry Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann and use a different Starliner craft.
"Our team successfully completed the transport and mating of two incredible vehicles," says Boeing Starliner Vice President John Mulholland. "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."