Boeing Starliner ready to launch NASA astronauts after years of delays

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, Saturday, May 4, 2024 at Cape Canave

The wait is nearly over for Boeing and NASA teams working toward sending a new spacecraft with two astronauts to the International Space Station and back.

Following years of delays and additional testing, Boeing's CFT-100 Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to launch NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the space station on what is known as the Crew Flight Test (CFT) for Starliner.

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NASA, Boeing Crew Flight Test Crew Butch Wilmore (left), and Suni Williams (right) arrive in Florida on Thursday, April 25, 2024.  (NASA)

Liftoff is scheduled for 10:34 p.m. ET on Monday from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Starliner is mounted on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, ready for launch from Space Launch Complex 41. The liftoff will mark the 100th mission for ULA's workhorse rocket and the rocket's first mission supporting human spaceflight. 

The final Starliner test comes after more than 10 years of testing and development. In 2014, NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the ISS with commercial spacecraft. A crewless Starliner launched to the ISS two years ago and returned to Earth during an orbital flight test (OFT). 


Starliner was set to launch Williams and Wilmore last summer, but Boeing managers revealed new issues with the spacecraft after further examining data from Starliner's OFT orbital flight test in May 2022. Boeing launched an orbital test flight without astronauts twice because of a botched first attempt in 2019 that failed to reach the ISS. 

Both astronauts are retired Navy captains going to space for the third time. As the CFT crew, the astronauts will test out Starliner's capability to certify the spacecraft for future astronaut missions. As former Navy test pilots, both astronauts say it is an honor. 

"I sort of have to pinch myself a little bit to understand we're actually going," Williams told reporters this week. 

NASA will begin live launch coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET on and NASA TV.

Launch weather: 95% favorable for liftoff and balmy for spectators 

Spectators will appreciate the night launch as the forecast this week is balmy and warm during the day. During the end of the countdown, the temperature will be about 72 degrees with 82% humidity. Pack your bug spray if you're camping out for the liftoff on Florida's Space Coast. 

Boeing CFT launch forecast.(FOX Weather)

The most important forecast comes from the Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron. A day before liftoff, conditions look suitable for the astronauts' ride to space. 

Launch weather officers forecast a 95% chance of favorable conditions for the 10:34 p.m. liftoff. The primary concern will be a slight chance of cumulus clouds in the area, posing a flight-through concern, but forecasters say the risk is low. 


The veteran astronauts will spend about a week on the International Space Station testing Starliner's systems before returning to Earth. 

A successful CFT will culminate in a soft landing of the Starliner spacecraft in the Southwest desert.

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