Astronaut and Tennessee Tech Trustee Barry Wilmore said he will be representing the university Thursday as a member of a uncrewed NASA test launch.
It will be the second launch of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Wilmore said he will be in the mission control center during the launch.
“We are more than thrilled to be here, and we’re also very very jealous, because this is human space flight and Rosie the mannequin gets to take this trip instead of us,” Wilmore said. “Obviously, this is a part of the evolution.”
Starliner will launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 5:54 p.m. Wilmore said after the launch, he will remain in mission control and observe the automatic docking to the International Space Station.
“We’ve done a lot of training simulations and developmental simulations, and we work well together,” Wilmore said. “We will have other parts of the mission that we will be directly and deeply involved with.”
Space Operations Mission Directorate Kathryn Luaders said the data from the test launch will be used for a manned mission of Starliner later this year. Lauders said NASA will announce the crew this summer. Wilmore said he hopes to be one of the astronauts selected.
The reusable capsule is designed to transport crews to the International space station. Ultimately, the spacecraft is being tested for commercial flight. A total of three astronauts including Wilmore have trained with Boeing for the test launch.