Boeing’s Starliner capsule, carrying an instrumented astronaut test dummy nicknamed “Rosie,” is on track for launch Friday.
It will be an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station. The CST-100 Starliner will liftoff from pad 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The capsule will catch up with the lab complex early Saturday and will remain docked over Christmas, returning to Earth on Dec. 28 at at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. “The spacecraft is in really good shape,” said John Mulholland, Boeing’s Starliner program manager. Last time an Atlas rocket launched an astronaut was in 1963. NASA needs one or both companies (SpaceX and Boeing) to fly soon.
The last currently-contracted seat aboard a Soyuz will be used by astronaut Chris Cassidy in April. Wearing a red bandana and a blue spacesuit, Rosie the Rocketeer is the first official passenger to ride Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft to the stars. Rosie will be connected to dozens of sensors that will read how she responds to G-forces during launch, ascent, reentry and landing, according to Boeing. Boeing Starliner communications manager Rebecca Regan and her 7-year-old daughter wrote a poem in Rosie's honor.