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First crewed Starliner test needs good weather for launch. Here’s the forecast

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft Boeing / Boeing

NASA and Boeing Space are a short time away from conducting the first crewed launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A ULA Atlas V rocket will power the Starliner and NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to orbit, putting them on course for a rendezvous with the International Space Station, where they’ll stay for about a week.

The rocket is due to blast off on Monday evening local time (Digital Trends has full details on how to watch a live stream of the event), with only the weather or a last-minute technical hitch standing in the way of an on-time launch.

Regarding the former, the situation is looking good. A forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron, which provides detailed assessments for air and space operations in the U.S., says that the conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are 95% favorable for the mission to begin on time.

“Although unlikely, there is a slight chance of a stray cumulus cloud posing a flight through concern, but the risk appears to be quite low,” the 45th Weather Squadron said in its report for the Starliner mission.

In a separate forecast, The Weather Channel says the Space Coast will have partly cloudy skies on Monday, with light winds in the area and just a small chance of precipitation.

If NASA is happy with the outcome of the test flight, it will give the space agency another option for crewed missions to and from the space station alongside its current vehicle, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which has been ferrying astronauts between Earth and the ISS since 2020.

Preparing the Starliner for its first crewed test flight has taken longer than expected. The spacecraft’s first flight in 2019 ended in failure when it was unable to reach the space station. It took three years to prepare the capsule for its second mission, which did manage to dock with the ISS before returning to Earth.

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