Atlas V for First Starliner Flight Coming Together in Alabama

The Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: ULA)

DECATUR, Ala. (NASA PR) — The Atlas V rocket that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is coming together inside a United Launch Alliance facility in Decatur, Alabama.

The uncrewed Orbital Flight Test is intended to prove the design of the integrated space system prior to the Crew Flight Test. These events are part of NASA’s required certification process as the company works to regularly fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing and United Launch Alliance have begun conducting integrated reviews of components, software and systems along with decades of Atlas data to ensure integrated vehicle test simulations are similar to real-life conditions during missions. Starliners for the uncrewed and crew test flights, including for the pad abort test, are in various stages of production and testing.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, as they each develop unique systems to fly astronauts for the agency to and from the space station. SpaceX is developing the Crew Dragon, or Dragon 2, spacecraft to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Boeing’s Starliner will liftoff on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Hurry up and finish that rocket!…I need to get off this planet, fast! There’s a mysterious huge object from interstellar space hurdling towards our Solar System…That according to CNN, The INDEPENDENT, Fox News, etc.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    You’re joking right?

  • Jacob Samorodin

    LOL…Yea, I took the limited info CNN had, as if they are reliable anymore, and ran with it.
    The object is real, it’s interstellar, and it came from the direction of Vega…Too late!… Vegans are already here!… LOL!… CNN writers don’t know how to use past tense in this news item.
    The object pass our planet and the sun days ago, heading back to interstellar space.
    We can be 99 percent sure it was a comet nuclei.

    But one thing I know, those of us in the majority who comment on PAB, want to leave this planet because? Pretty view of Earth? Yes, but also this world is getting dangerous indeed; has been getting more and more so since 1945…who wants to stick around?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The hyperbolic excess of this object is ‘only’ 28 km/sec. That means after the Sun has done all the work on it that it will do, it will still be traveling at 28 km/sec relative to the Sun. I’m not so sure we can say it came from Vega. It could very well be a Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud object that was thrown into the inner Solar System by interacting with a massive body. The spectrum is somewhat red and has a flat light curve such as we can detect it (it’s small, and far out) which indicates that the surface is covered with ices that have been exposed to a lot of radiation, so some folks think it might have been ejected from another solar system by something like a Jupiter and we were lucky to catch it. Another interesting point is it made it’s perihelion passage on the day of the eclipse in the US. There were telescopes trained on the volume of space where it object was, and no cometary activity was detected. For that matter the object was not detected either (nor should it have been). So an apparent lack of volatiles is interesting and in conflict with the idea that the red spectrum is explained by ices being exposed to high doses of radiation.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Curious!…Maybe that one percent probability of something else is starting to become more likely, whatever that means.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    A more reliable update; it comes from Spacedaily.com. The object is now travelling at 27 miles per second (44 km/sec), more than two months after perihelion. It is comfortably beyond one A.U. now, so the present 44 km/sec will certainly give it enough momentum to leave our Solar System for good, leaving behind all those Vegans (who keep lecturing us to eat our vegetables) LOL.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Eat your vegetables. It’s still deep in the solar system, it won’t settle into its hyperbolic excess until it’s way way out. I’d estimate somewhere as far out as 40 or so AU.

  • delphinus100

    It’s true, minus the hype.

    But being in LEO won’t really put you any closer to it, if that’s what you want (or farther from any imaginary impact danger, given how high the ejecta could go, and the limits of life support for a capsule only meant to get you to a space station and back), than anyone else…

  • publiusr

    Here is a question. That asteroid looks to do a pretty hard turn once it does a flyby of the sun.

    It looks to move along a good bit of the plane of our system. So what objects in the asteroid belt might it meet?

    Please say Ceres. Maybe Dawn could meet it, perhaps?

    As for the Atlas V–meh…

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Offhand, without looking, 🙂 …. The chance of a close flyby with another asteroid is pretty slim.

    To a first order you can check here… This is the page for 2017 U1. You can also look up the positions of any other asteroid you want to check. Use the orbital diagram for a pictorial illustration of the various geometries.

  • publiusr

    I need glasses to read that screen…