NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, a veteran of two stays aboard the International Space Station and Space Shuttle mission STS-134, works through a check list inside a mockup of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner during a simulation at NASA’s Johnson Space Center Aug. 21, 2019. Fincke, along with NASA astronaut Nicole Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, will launch to the Space Station aboard the Starliner during its first crewed flight test.
Starliner will launch as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the American aerospace industry to develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the Space Station. Commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery on the orbiting laboratory. The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight necessary for the journey to Mars. By encouraging industry to provide human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA can expand its focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions.