NASA astronauts arrive in Florida ahead of Boeing Starliner launch to ISS

Boeing and NASA managers will complete a flight readiness review to determine if teams are ready to move ahead with the Crew Flight Test launch to the International Space Station. If given the "go" for launch, the Starliner spacecraft will liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 10:34 p.m. May 6.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – Boeing Starliner's first astronaut crew arrived in Florida on Thursday, less than two weeks ahead of their launch to the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore are scheduled to launch on the CST-100 Starliner on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral at 10:34 p.m. May 6. 

Wilmore and Williams arrived at Kennedy Space Center, landing on the old space shuttle runway in a T-38 aircraft. It was a fitting arrival for the astronauts, who are both retired U.S. Navy captains.

"We love Florida; we love Kennedy Space Center because this is where you launch astronauts to space," Wilmore said.


This will be the third spaceflight and third spacecraft for both astronauts, having flown on the Russian Soyuz and NASA's Space Shuttle orbiter. 

The pair's next flight will be on top of the Atlas V rocket, blasting off into orbit.

The astronauts flew from Houston on Thursday, where they entered quarantine earlier this week ahead of their launch. 

Boeing and NASA managers will complete a flight readiness review on Thursday to determine whether teams are ready to proceed with the Crew Flight Test launch to the International Space Station.  

Over the next week, the crew and flight teams will prepare for the launch by reviewing all spacecraft, rocket and ground systems, culminating in a launch dress rehearsal next week. 

During the test flight, the crew has a list of items to check and review while en route to the ISS once they are docked on the station and during the flight back to Earth. 

While on station, the crew plans to contribute to daily tasks in the orbiting laboratory.

Astronauts on the ISS regularly have planned outreach events with the media and schools on Earth. Williams plans to have a call with Sunita Williams Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts.

"There are a lot of little kids there who know who I am," she said.

Starliner to become second American-made ride to space station

A successful Crew Test Flight could mean NASA has a second U.S. commercial vehicle to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station

In 2014, NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop spacecraft to end the gap after the space shuttle program ended and resume launching American astronauts from the U.S. SpaceX began launching its Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts in 2020 and recently completed its ninth launch with a NASA crew. 


Boeing's crew test flight comes two years after a crewless Starliner launched to the ISS 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 from May 2022. This was a repeat test flight from a botched attempt in 2019 that ended without docking at the ISS. 

A successful crew test flight will culminate about a week after Starliner arrives at the ISS. The spacecraft will undock from the ISS and bring Williams and Wilmore home, landing in the Southwest desert.