Boeing Starliner capsule to test flight at Cape Canaveral

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SEATTLE, Aug 3 - Boeing Co's CST - 100 Starliner capsule is poised to blast at Cape Canaveral in South Africa on Monday for the International Space Station in a crucial test flight after an unexpected failure during its 2019 debut.

Wednesday's planned crewed mission is a precursor to a closely watched flight that could be conducted before the end of this year. It also marks a key trial for the US firm after back-to-back crises a pandemic that prevented demand for new planes and a safety scandal caused by two fatal 737 MAX crashes - which damaged Boeing's finances and engineering reputation.

If all goes according to plan, the Starliner capsule loaded with supplies will blast off atop an Atlas V rocket flown by the United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp, at 1: 20 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The launch had been scheduled for last Friday at www.reuters.com life science space-station - mishap-prompts - nasa-postpone - launch-boeing - starliner - 2021 - 07 - 29, but was postponed by NASA after the space station was briefly thrown out of control with seven crew members aboard, a mishap caused by the inadvertent reignition of jet thrusters on a Russia's space agency blames a software glitch.

Atlas V's twin Aerojet Rocketdyne RL 10 A - 4 - 2 engines are poised to shoot Starliner on a 113 mile long suborbital trajectory before the capsule separates and flies under its own power to the space station in a roughly 24 - hour overall journey.

The Starliner capsule bombed Boeing's efforts against billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX to be the first to return NASA astronauts from U.S. soil to the space station in nearly a decade?

But a series of software glitches during the December 2019 debut launch resulted in its failure to dock at the orbital laboratory outpost. SpaceX's Crew Dragon has gone on to launch three crewed space station missions since 2020, with a fourth slated as soon as October 31 according to NASA.

Boeing has spent a year and a half correcting various issues flagged during NASA Reviews, part of the U.S. space agency's strategy to ensure access to the sprawling international research satellite some 250 miles above Earth.

Boeing and SpaceX awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to develop their own capsules that could fly American astronauts to the station in an effort to wean the United States from its dependence on Russian Soyuz vehicles for rides to space following the final of NASA's space shuttle program in 2011.

If all goes well, Boeing will bring the capsule home Aug. 9 and then attempt the follow-on crewed mission that the company says will take place no sooner than December.