‘We are Ready,’ NASA, Boeing crew, including Sunita Williams, counts down to historical launch

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams participate in a virtual media engagement event from inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters in the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams held a virtual question and answer session with media on May 1, from inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of their launch to the space station. 

“We’ve been through training and we have our fingerprints on every single procedure that exists for this spacecraft,” said Wilmore. “We’re fully trained in all aspects of Starliner.”

Wilmore and Williams have quarantined inside the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building since they arrived at the Florida spaceport April 25.  

The Operations and Checkout Building dates back to the Apollo program and was used for missions under the Space Shuttle Program. Located on the third floor, the crew quarters consists of 23 bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The area also includes the suitup room, where teams help astronauts into their spacesuits before they exit the building and enter a vehicle to take them to the launch pad. 

Wilmore and Williams will be the first to fly aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station. The astronauts will spend about a week at the orbiting laboratory before the crew capsule makes a parachute and airbag-assisted landing in the southwestern United States. 

“We feel very safe and very comfortable when this spacecraft flies,” said Williams. “This is where we’re supposed to be.”

After successful completion of the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station. The Starliner capsule, with a diameter of 15 feet (4.56m) and the capability to steer automatically or manually, will carry four astronauts, or a mix of crew and cargo, for NASA missions to low Earth orbit. 

Launch is scheduled for 10:34 p.m. EDT Monday, May 6, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.



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