NASA confirms plan for Boeing space taxi tests

Starliner test
Teams from NASA, Boeing and White Sands Missile Range rehearse procedures for landing and crew extraction from Boeing’s Starliner in September at the New Mexico missile range. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

NASA confirmed today that Boeing is scheduled to conduct the next high-profile test of its CST-100 Starliner space capsule in a little more than three weeks.

The target data for Starliner’s pad abort test is set for Nov. 4 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, NASA said. That’s in line with the plan that Boeing executive John Mulholland laid out earlier this week at a New Mexico space symposium.

If next month’s test is successful, Boeing would target Dec. 17 for the launch of an uncrewed Starliner to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

And if that test flight is successful in turn, Boeing is expected to send a crew of spacefliers on a demonstration flight to the space station in early 2020. That’s roughly the same timetable that SpaceX is working toward for the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon space taxi.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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