SpaceX Rival Boeing Set for Epic Third Crewed Flight Test Launch – Will It Finally Succeed?

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – After facing multiple delays and setbacks, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is poised to make its third attempt at launching its first crewed flight test on Wednesday. This milestone event, a decade in the making, will mark the spacecraft’s maiden voyage with humans on board, taking off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Veteran NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are scheduled to ride aboard the Starliner capsule on a journey to the International Space Station. The historic event will be livestreamed on NASA’s website, with coverage starting early Wednesday morning.

This mission, known as the Crew Flight Test, represents Boeing’s efforts to develop a spacecraft to compete with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The initiative aims to strengthen collaboration with private industry partners and expand the options for ferrying astronauts to the space station.

If successful, this flight would only be the sixth inaugural journey of a crewed spacecraft in US history, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Williams will also make history as the first woman to fly aboard such a mission.

Upon arrival at the space station, the astronauts will conduct tests on various aspects of Starliner’s capabilities, including thruster performance and manual piloting. They will also test the spacecraft’s “safe haven” capability, designed to provide shelter for the crew in case of emergencies.

After spending eight days at the space station, the astronauts will return to Earth using the same Starliner capsule and parachute landing system. This mission is seen as a crucial step before NASA certifies Boeing’s Starliner for regular operations to transport astronauts and cargo to the space station.

Overall, the journey to launch Starliner has been marred by development delays and technical issues, including a small helium leak and problems with the rocket’s countdown sequence. However, the upcoming launch presents an opportunity for Boeing to showcase the viability of its spacecraft for future space missions.