Science 2 min read

Boeing is Preparing to Launch its Prototype Capsule for NASA

Boeing is reportedly finalizing the preparations for the first space test flight of its prototype capsule for NASA, the Boeing Starliner.

Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

The Boeing company is about to launch a prototype capsule, the Starliner, to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Starliner is set to lift off this Friday, on an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:36 a.m. EST. While the mission is uncrewed, the vehicle will not be empty.

On its ascent to the orbit, the prototype capsule will be carrying 270 kg of supplies to the ISS. These include mostly food and a test dummy nicknamed Rosie.

Sensors in Rosie will record the onboard environment. That way, engineers can capture the discomfort an astronaut may experience in the more violent phases of the flight.

After spending a week on the ISS, the prototype capsule will return home to New Mexico, where it’ll use parachutes and airbags to make a soft landing.

If the uncrewed mission succeeds, a crewed test flight to the ISS should follow. And afterward, the company should start ferrying NASA astronauts to space.

Building a Prototype Capsule for NASA

For nearly nine years, NASA has not been able to launch its astronauts into orbit. Instead, the agency had depended on the Russian Soyuz capsule to get its people into the ISS.

With Boeing’s Starliner, the space agency hopes to regain independent access to the Earth’s low orbit. It has already selected Nicole Mann, Mike Fincke, and Boeing test pilot, Chris Ferguson, for the next crewed mission.

Ferguson was the commander on the last space shuttle mission. However, the astronaut reportedly left NASA to help Boeing develop Starliner.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Ferguson said:

“We crew, we’re looking forward to commercial infrastructure in space because this means more flight assignments for us, which is what we as astronauts really live for. But it’s also more flight assignments for the non-government astronaut types. This is a really interesting time.”

Dragon is another prototype capsule that’s currently being developed for NASA.

Earlier in the year, the SpaceX capsule suffered an anomaly during a routine test on the ground, which led to an explosion. Before that, the capsule had successfully docked at the ISS.

Read More: Boeing Unveils Its Astronaut Carrier – Starliner Spacecraft

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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