Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is about to take a step closer toward taking people to orbit, and you can watch this step unfold first-hand. NASA and Boeing are streaming live coverage of the Starliner’s pad abort test on November 4th at 9AM Eastern. Like similar tests, the New Mexico dry run will verify whether the vessel can safely jettison itself (and importantly, astronauts) away from its host rocket if there’s an emergency before liftoff. The four launch abort engines and control thrusters will lift the spacecraft roughly a mile above the ground and a mile north of the test platform.
There’s a three-hour window in case weather or other complications delay the test. Don’t expect this particular vehicle to carry forward — it’s not poised to survive.
If all goes well, Starliner will join SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and other vehicles as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which aims to have American vehicles once more carrying American astronauts into space through cooperation with private spaceflight outfits. On top of boosting national pride, it would reduce dependence on Russia for those missions where cooperation isn’t necessary.