2023 could be a busy year for NASA and Alabama
NASA and Boeing plan launch a new space capsule called the Starliner on its first mission carrying astronauts in 2023. The gumdrop shaped spacecraft is similar in appearance to the Orion vehicle that flew to the Moon late last year. The test flight of the Artemis rocket and the unmanned capsule, both managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. NASA says it may soon name the astronauts who will fly on Artemis-2. That flight will be a manned trip around the Moon, duplicating the historic mission of Apollo 8 over Christmas in 1968. Historians point to that particular mission as perhaps the most significant of the Apollo program, since it was the first time humans left Earth and flew somewhere else. Starliner’s job is to carry crews to and from the International Space Station. Alabama’s connection to this mission is the rocket that will carry the Boeing spacecraft. It’s an Atlas five booster built by the United Launch Alliance in Decatur. The Marshall Space Flight Center is also managing an unmanned spacecraft called OSIRIS-REX. That vehicle is expected to return rock samples from an asteroid called Bennu later this year.