Boeing rolls out Starliner crew capsule at Kennedy Space Center

A big day on the Space Coast as we take another step toward sending astronauts into space from U.S. soil.

Boeing rolled out its Starliner crew capsule.

Hundreds of people who worked on the Boeing Starliner lead the way with a banner featuring all of their signatures as the Starliner crew capsule inched its way out of the Boeing hangar and into the spotlight.

The three astronauts selected to fly it next year shared their excitement.

“We’re looking forward to the day that we’re launching people on a very regular basis,” astronaut Mike Fincke said.

Veteran astronaut Chris Ferguson last flew into space on the final space shuttle mission in 2011 on Atlantis. Now he will also be part of Boeing’s Starliner.

“We’re gonna launch this baby, we’re gonna recover it in the Western US, we’re gonna bring it back and we’re gonna lather, rinse, and repeat,” Ferguson said.

He said it’s the dawn of a new era. 

The third member of the crew is Nicole Mann, the first female astronaut to fly to the International Space Station on a U.S. commercial crew vehicle.

“Wow I tell you this is an exciting time,” Mann said. “I know in my house on a daily basis we’re talking about Starliner and launch and test flights and everything.”

Now in position at the launch pad, the Starliner is being prepped for next month’s liftoff.

The goal is to research challenges of long-duration spaceflight, which is necessary for a sustainable presence on our moon or Mars. 

Boeing is constructing three Starliners. There’s one still inside the Boeing manufacturing facility that will take the astronauts into space next year. It is just like the one that rolled out this morning, but that one will be for the unmanned test flight.

U.S. taxpayers have invested $6 billion into two private companies – Boeing and SpaceX – to transport astronauts from U.S. soil – no longer relying on Russia.