Atlas V Rocket Assembled for Starliner Launch to International Space Station

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket
Engineers in United Launch Alliance’s Vertical Integration Facility used large cranes to assemble the stages of the company’s Atlas V rocket, in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket is assembled in preparation for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Engineers in ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) used large cranes to assemble the stages of the rocket in an upright position on its mobile launch platform, which will carry the Atlas V and Starliner from the VIF to the pad for launch.

To verify the rocket is ready to launch, technicians will soon power the Atlas V to test flight controls, check the engine steering profiles, and conduct a combined systems test.

The 172-foot-tall rocket will be fully completed when the Starliner is mounted aboard the Atlas V. A ULA payload transporter will move the capsule from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at the Kennedy Space Center to the nearby VIF for attachment.

The Atlas V will propel Starliner off the pad on 1.6 million pounds of thrust on its second uncrewed flight test from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida no earlier than July 30.

As Boeing’s second uncrewed flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 will serve as an end-to-end flight test to prove the Atlas V rocket and Starliner are ready for regular missions launching astronauts to and from the space station.

Learn more about ULA’s Atlas V and stacking.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review Underway; Virtual Crew Media Engagement on NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX managers are gathered this morning to begin the Crew-1 mission’s Flight Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The review focuses on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight, and the certification of flight readiness.

The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew insignia features a dragon in silhouette, a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the numeral 1 for Crew-1.Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, is leading the review. Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Build and Flight Reliability, is the senior SpaceX official.

The teams also have additional time on Tuesday, Nov. 10, to complete the review. Approximately one hour after the review ends, the agency will hold a media teleconference with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • FAA representative

Also, tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website at 1:15 p.m. EST today for a Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with the Crew-1 astronauts who will answer questions live from the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:49 EST, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

Flight Readiness Review Begins for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test

Wet dress rehearsal for OFT
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, topped by the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, stands on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday, Dec. 6, during a wet dress rehearsal for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test. Image credit: NASA

NASA and Boeing are holding a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The review provides NASA and Boeing the opportunity to assess the mission status and work that needs to be completed prior to the critical flight test.

Ken Bowersox, deputy associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, is leading the meeting. The senior Boeing official at the review is Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch.

Teams have gathered from across the agency and Boeing to hear presentations from key mission managers. The FRR is an in-depth assessment on the readiness of flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and systems, mission operations, support functions and readiness of the space station program to support Starliner’s maiden mission to the International Space Station. The meeting will conclude with a poll of all members of the review board.

Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to rendezvous and dock with the orbiting laboratory. Launch is targeted for Friday, Dec. 20.

The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify Boeing’s crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Target Flight Dates

*NASA and Boeing provided updates on Oct. 11, 2019. For the details on Boeing flight tests and the schedule, visit

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements. To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demonstration Mission 1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation mission. The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly-releasable dates for both providers.

Targeted Test Flight Dates:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: February 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): June 2018

Seeking Sky Walkers

Seeking Sky Walkers


Have you ever wanted to explore to a galaxy far, far away? Is the Force strong in you? NASA seeks sky walkers to join the astronaut alliance. Learn more, at


Getting to Know Our Crew

Our astronauts had the chance to share the path forward for Commercial Crew and why they are excited to train and ultimately fly to the International Space Station aboard Boeing’s
CST-100 and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Behnken Hurley Williams

Celebrate the Fourth of July with Commercial Crew


Celebrate Fourth of July with Commercial Crew by coloring our newest coloring sheet. You can download the sheet, at 

NASAinNOLAAlso, don’t forget to check out the NASA exhibits at Essence Fest and the Audubon Institute’s Aquarium if you are in New Orleans this weekend.


Budding Engineers Build Spacecraft

0608151505“Sometimes when you are an engineer, you have to get it wrong, before you can get it right,” said Rebecca Regan, an employee at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Yesterday, Regan taught 17 elementary school students at Kennedy’s Child Development Center about the Commercial Crew Program and the need to have American-made spacecraft and rocket systems to carry people to and from space. After the lesson, each student built their own spacecraft out of cardboard boxes and art supplies.

Take a look at the designs these budding engineers created.

IMG_8306 20150608_151834_1 IMG_8304





Want to build your own spacecraft this summer? We used the following supplies:

  • Cardboard box
  • Disposable plates (for portholes)
  • Pictures (to place on the portholes)
  • Plastic cups (to make rocket engines)
  • Foil (to cover the cups)
  • Tissue Paper – red, orange and yellow (to make fire for the engines)
  • Construction Paper (for decorating)
  • Stencils (for decorating)
  • Pencil (for a steering wheel)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • NASA and Commercial Crew Program logos