The Boeing Starliner is hours away from launching two astronauts on its long-awaited mission.what is the problem here

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Two NASA astronauts have reached the final hours of their long-awaited launch attempt on Boeing’s Starliner capsule, marking the brand-new spacecraft’s first crewed mission.

Starliner — designed by an aerospace giant as a rival SpaceX’s prolific Crew Dragon capsule — It is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Monday at 10:34 p.m. ET for its first crewed test operation.

NASA is webcast The event begins Monday at 6:30pm ET on that channel. CNN will stream mission updates live online shortly before launch.

Weather or technical issues can always interrupt a rocket launch until the countdown clock hits zero, but tonight’s forecast couldn’t be better. Weather officials say that’s the only option. 5% chance Clouds, wind and storms will prevent takeoff tonight.

The mission, called Crew Flight Test, could be the last major milestone before NASA deems Boeing’s spacecraft ready for routine operations as part of the federal agency’s commercial crew program. be. Starliner will join SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in NASA’s push to collaborate with private industry partners, expanding the United States’ options for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.

The mission’s crew includes veteran astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore, who have traveled to space twice before on NASA’s Space Shuttle and Russia’s Soyuz missions, respectively.

“They’re inspecting a number of systems, including life support and manual controls,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a press conference Friday. “That’s why we brought two test pilots on board. Butch and Suni, of course, have huge resumes.”

If all goes according to plan, the crew will board the Starliner capsule and lift off atop the Atlas V rocket on Monday night. After the spacecraft carrying the astronauts reaches orbit, it separates from the rocket and begins to start its own engines. Starliner will then gradually make its way to the space station over 24 hours, arriving at the space station at 12:46 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Mr. Williams and Mr. Wilmore will spend about a week aboard the orbiting laboratory. 7 astronauts and astronauts Although already on board, the Starliner remains moored outside.

The pair will then return home in the same Starliner capsule and land by parachute at one of several designated locations in the southwestern United States.

A lot is going on with a smooth test flight. NASA waited six months for Starliner to begin flying crews, and Starliner’s development has been plagued by years of delays, setbacks, and failures. More broadly, Boeing as a company has been plagued by years of scandals in its aircraft division that have tarnished the traditional aerospace giant’s brand.

“We went through a pretty rigorous process to get to this point,” Mark Nappi, Boeing vice president and Starliner program manager, said at a Friday briefing about the development process. “And really, my source of confidence comes from going through that process.”

If successful, the crew test flight could put Boeing in line to start making regular flights to the space station on behalf of NASA.

In 2014, the U.S. Space Agency announced that Space Boeing was selected to develop the Starliner along with the Crew Dragon capsule.

SpaceX ultimately beat out Boeing and conducted a manned test flight of its Crew Dragon capsule in May 2020. Since then, it has come to represent the majority of NASA’s crew transportation needs.

“We support SpaceX. It’s very important for our country, and it’s very important for NASA to get that access,” Nappi said at a press conference in March. “And we look forward to providing (astronaut transportation services) as well.”

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