NASA’s Boeing Starliner launches soon. Here’s what to know.

May 4, 2024 | by

NASA is scheduled to launch its first Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test on Monday night. The launch is scheduled for 10:34 pm EDT aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Coverage of the launch begins at 6:30 pm EDT. It will stream live across NASA’s platforms.

The craft will carry NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita (Suni) Williams, who will make the flight to the International Space Station (ISS). They are expected to dock on the ISS at 12:48 am. NASA’s website will live stream docking, hatch opening, and welcome remarks from the astronauts. If you are close to Florida’s Space Coast, there are many locations where you can view the launch in person

“We are going to have a whole new adventure. This is very much a part of our exploration of space and what I call the ‘golden age of space exploration,’” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “It’s a historical day. It’s a wonderful day.”

New feats 

Astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson

The Starliner launch is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which seeks to launch astronauts into space in a private/public partnership using American tech. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is 15 feet in diameter, can be steered manually or automatically, and holds up to four astronauts. If the mission is successful, the space agency will finalize the certification of Starliner for missions to the ISS. This mission will focus on verifying the transportation system, including the launch pad and rocket, in-orbit functions, and the craft’s crewed return to Earth. Boeing’s Starliner capsules are reusable up to 10 times and have features like wireless internet. 

The interior of the Boeing Starliner.
The interior of the Boeing Starliner. Credit: Boeing/NASA.

Wilmore and Williams will stay on the ISS for about a week before returning to Earth. The craft will use parachutes and an airbag-assisted landing to touchdown May 15 in the southwestern U.S.

Wilmore has been on two space flights, including one aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-129), and spent 178 days in space. Williams was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1998. Since then, Williams has logged 322 days in space throughout two space missions. 


View all

view all