An Atlas V booster and Dual Engine Centaur have arrived at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC) after being offloaded from the Rocketship transport vessel. Spaceflight media was invited to attend the event to provide coverage. This is the third human-rated Atlas V rocket to be delivered to the Cape, with the first being stacked ahead of the Orbital Flight Test 2.
This Atlas rocket began its journey around June 14th after departing the Decatur, AL rocket factory, and arrived at Port Canaveral, FL on June 20th. The Crewed Flight Test (CFT) campaign is slowly ramping up starting with this delivery, while the Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) Atlas V is being stacked at SLC-41. The launch of OFT-2 is currently scheduled for the afternoon of July 30th, with the CFT launch NET in late 2021. Two of the three astronauts slated to launch on the CFT mission attended the Atlas V Booster rollout, a surprise to the media attending.
Centaur and Interstage Rollout
The first 2 items offloaded from Rocketship were the Dual Engine Centaur and an Atlas V 400 series interstage. The only component not found in this trip are the two solid rocket motors that are needed for launch. The CST-100 Starliner will be delivered from its processing facility on Kennedy Space Center closer to the launch.
Atlas V Booster Rollout + Astronauts
Transportation of the Atlas V booster began about an hour after the Centaur and Interstage were moved. They first rolled out the booster for a photo op with 2 of the 3 astronauts slated to fly on the CFT mission. The media in attendance were permitted to move closer to the now parked booster to get some photos and ask some questions. Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Mike Fincke were excited to be able to visit their ride to space, saying “Not very many payloads visit their rocket being offloaded.” Both astronauts are still expecting their flight by the end of 2021, but it is dependent on the OFT-2 test being successful.
ULA is progressing towards the OFT-2 flight in late July and we are expecting the CFT flight in late 2021 should the OFT-2 flight be a success. Stacking ahead of the OFT-2 mission is underway at SLC-41. We also expect to see the Starliner capsule, for the OFT-2 flight, moved to be integrated with the rest of the rocket in early July.
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