The stage is set for an American spacecraft to revive the era of the space shuttle for sending astronauts to the international space station. It was in 2011 that Russia took over this responsibility after NASA had to end its involvement because it had to retire its Space Shuttle mission. That forced the American space agency to rely on Russia and it has been paying out heavily to ferry their astronauts to the space lab. On average, it worked out to approximately $55.4 million per seat aboard the Russian spacecraft, according to CNN.

CNN says Boeing has readied its Starliner.

It will take off on Friday to dock with the ISS over the weekend. The journey will be a rehearsal of the first manned mission next year. This trial will carry a dummy named Rosie and it will be fitted with a whole range of sensors to record important parameters related to the G-forces that astronauts would have to endure. There is no schedule prepared on when humans can travel to the space station using Starliner. Experts of the space agency and Boeing will have to take a decision on this aspect after completion of the trials. In the opinion of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the vehicle could be ready in "the first part" of next year.

Elon Musk is also in the queue

SpaceX is also in the race.

This rocket company is the brainchild of tech billionaire Elon Musk. His Crew Dragon capsule has already done an unmanned test flight earlier this year. However, it has yet to undergo some more tests before it is ready to fly. With two contenders, it is difficult to predict which of them would get the first nod to ferry astronauts.

NASA had expected Starliner and Crew Dragon would be ready by 2017, but that has not happened.

CNN adds that the Boeing spacecraft will head to the ISS with some cargo apart from Rosie.

NASA has already identified three astronauts who will be on Starliner's first crewed mission. It has suggested that people from different backgrounds can train and fly to space alongside members of its astronaut corps because it is just another profession.

Launch site will be Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

According to Space, those who live along the US Eastern Seaboard can watch the launch. It will be early morning on Dec. 20, subject to favorable weather conditions. This will be the Orbital Flight Test for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft meant to transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Success of the OFT would mean a crewed test flight to the space lab and subsequent regular missions.

SpaceX also has a commercial crew deal with the space agency. This California-based company flew its OFT using its Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket. It would have to clear another hurdle by conducting an in-flight abort (IFA) test in January to prove the ability of Crew Dragon to emerge unscathed in case of a launch emergency.

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