Boeing and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are making the final preparations to launch the Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS). The Starliner, of course, is a reusable crew capsule. It was designed and manufactured by Boeing as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. With the Commercial Crew Program, NASA is seeking new designs for crew capsules, which it intends to use for ISS missions.
The Starliner isn’t a rocket itself. Rather, it’s a capsule with a hollow interior that’s designed to carry astronauts to and from the ISS. To launch the Starliner to the ISS, Boeing and NASA are planning to use a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V was originally designed by Lockheed Martin. Now, however, it’s a joint project between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Atlas V will be used to launch and Starliner to the ISS.
Boeing and NASA had originally planned to launch the Starliner on July 30. Bad weather though, prompted the two organizations to delay the launch. “For the protection of the #Starliner and #AtlasV, and to avoid inclement weather, we are rolling back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF),” wrote NASA in a tweet. Boeing and NASA are still planning to launch the Starliner to the ISS. They’ve simply pushed back the launch date to August 3.
It’s important to note that the upcoming launch won’t be used to send astronauts to the ISS. For the upcoming launch, Boeing and NASA will send supplies to the ISS. Reports indicate that some 400 pounds of supplies will be packed into the Starliner. Assuming it reaches the ISS, astronauts aboard the space station can then retrieve the supplies.
NASA says it will take about 24 hours for the Starliner to reach and dock with the ISS. NASA is planning to live-stream the docking event on its platform, NASA TV. Once docked, the Starliner will stay at the ISS for up to 10 days. During this time, astronauts will retrieve supplies from the capsule, after which they’ll fill the Starliner will research samples. The Starliner will then make its way back to Earth.
The ultimate goal is to use the Starliner to transport astronauts to and from the ISS. First, though, Boeing and NASA will send supplies to the ISS aboard the Starliner. This upcoming launch is expected to take place on August 3. As previously mentioned, you can watch the Starliner dock with the ISS on NASA TV.