In another way, if there is a risk of an explosion or something else really bad happening at the launch site, the abortion system tested on Monday is essentially the crew's life raft. During the test, the engines must carry the empty spacecraft about one mile in the air and one mile north of the test bench before parachutes and landing airbags are deployed for a soft touch down.
Starliner is one of two new spacecraft with which NASA has entered into a contract for the launch of astronauts to the International Space Station as part of its crew; both crafts face delays in the development and testing process, prompting NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein to apply some public pressure.
In particular,to a new Starship vehicle designed to transport humans to the moon and Mars.
"NASA expects to see the same level of enthusiasm focused on US taxpayer investment. It's time to deliver," Bridestin tweeted on September 27, one day before Musk's introduction.
Bridenstein again referred to the interest of the American taxpayer in his announcement that the Boeing Starliner test would be broadcast live on Monday.
NASA's interest in removing commercial crew from the earth and in orbit is not solely a fiscal responsibility. NASA has almost no space in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that it has reserved by the Roscosmos space agency. All astronauts have been orbited by Soyuz rockets since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, and NASA is particularly eager to bring missiles back to the United States.
If Monday's test is going well, we may need to see Starliner start wearing people at some point in the coming months. You can watch below via NASA's embedded video. The test is set for 6:00 am PT, but there is a three-hour window to start in case of delays.