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NASA confirms Boeing’s latest timetable for Starliner space …

Teams from NASA, Boeing and White Sands Missile Range rehearse procedures for landing and crew extraction from Boeing’s Starliner in September at the New Mexico missile range. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

NASA confirmed today that Boeing is scheduled to conduct the next high-profile test of its CST-100 Starliner space capsule in a little more than three weeks.

The target data for Starliner’s pad abort test is set for Nov. 4 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, NASA said. That’s in line with the plan that Boeing executive John Mulholland laid out earlier this week at a New Mexico space symposium.

If next month’s test is successful, Boeing would target Dec. 17 for the launch of an uncrewed Starliner to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

And if that test flight is successful in turn, Boeing is expected to send a crew of spacefliers on a demonstration flight to the space station in early 2020. That’s roughly the same timetable that SpaceX is working toward for the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon space taxi.

SpaceX and Boeing are developing the spaceships under the terms of multibillion-dollar contracts with NASA. Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are designed to accommodate as many as seven astronauts for trips to and from the space station, restoring a U.S. crewed launch capability that was lost in 2011 when NASA retired the space shuttle fleet.

NASA is currently paying Russia’s space agency more than $80 million a seat for trips on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.