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Boeing's 1st Starliner Space Capsule Rolls Out to Launch Site for Test Flight

Boeing's crew capsule bound for the International Space Station took its next big step on that journey today (Nov. 21) as it moved from the company's facility out to its Florida launch site.

The CST-100 Starliner capsule is due to make its first flight, an uncrewed test mission, on Dec. 17. The spacecraft will spend its final month on Earth at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At that facility, owned by United Launch Alliance, the capsule will today be stacked on its Atlas V rocket built by ULA.

"Starliner is beautiful," NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who will be flying on the first crewed Starliner mission, wrote on Twitter.

Related: In Photos: Boeing's Starliner Pad Abort Test Launch

During that crewed test mission, which will be Starliner's next flight, Fincke will be joined by Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA colleague Nicole Mann. The trio was on-site for the rollout to commemorate the milestone in Starliner's journey.

The December test flight will be a critical trial for Starliner as it seeks NASA certification to fly astronauts to and from the space station. The uncrewed test flight will test each stage of a typical astronaut journey, including docking and undocking with the space station itself.

Boeing's first CST-100 Starliner capsule seen in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center as it began its journey on Nov. 21, 2019, to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for launch. (Image credit: NASA)

The uncrewed test flight is scheduled for just six weeks after Boeing's last key procedure, a pad abort test. That launch was designed to vet the spacecraft's ability to carry astronauts safely away from any anomalies with the rocket before blastoff.

Boeing's counterpart in NASA's commercial crew program, SpaceX, completed a similar uncrewed test flight of its own spacecraft, Crew Dragon, in March. Both companies are targeting crewed missions next year. 

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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