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Boeing video shows Starliner returning to the launch pad.

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Starliner To Launchpad.jpg
Boeing Space’s Starliner spacecraft returns to the launch pad aboard an Atlas V rocket. NASA/Boeing Space

In a major step toward the first crewed flight, Boeing Space Co.’s Starliner spacecraft and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket were delivered to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday.

In a video showing the rockets heading to the launch pad (see below), Boeing said the Starliner and Atlas V traveled at one mile (1.6 kilometers) per hour along a trajectory from ULA Launch Complex’s Vertical Integration Facility to Space Launch Complex 41 in preparation for the historic flight by NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams scheduled for Saturday.

today, #Starliner and #AtlasV The stack traveled along the track at approximately 1 mile per hour (1.6 km/h). FollowPrior to the manned flight test, it was moved from the company’s Vertically Integrated Facility to Space Launch Complex 41.

June 1, @NASA_Astronaut Butch Wilmore and Follow Release Schedule @Space Station. pic.twitter.com/bl5x6uSkkC

β€” Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 30, 2024

In fact, this isn’t the first time the spacecraft and rocket have been placed on the launch pad: earlier this month, the Starliner and Atlas V were delivered to the pad for their May 6th launch.

Everything was going smoothly until two hours before the scheduled launch, when engineers discovered a problem with a valve in the rocket’s upper stage and the launch was postponed.

While the team was dealing with the valve issue, a helium leak was found on the Starliner spacecraft that also needed to be fixed.

NASA has postponed its target launch date multiple times since then, but this Saturday’s launch seems more certain than ever, and barring any last-minute issues, Starliner should be the first to carry astronauts on its journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

It’s been a long and difficult journey for Starliner: NASA first tried to send it to the ISS in 2019, but a series of software issues prevented it from reaching the correct orbit, causing the uncrewed test mission to fail.

It wasn’t until 2022 that Starliner was ready to fly again, when the unmanned craft successfully docked with the ISS and returned to Earth by parachute landing a short time later. But since then, further problems have emerged for Starliner, which is why it took so long for the spacecraft to be ready for its first manned flight.

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