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United Launch Alliance preps for the return of the manned space missions from Cape Canaveral

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United Launch Alliance preps for manned space missions from Cape Canaveral

Space company United Launch Alliance is building key infrastructure for manned missions from Cape Canaveral.

CAPE CANAVERAL – Space company United Launch Alliance is busy with the preparations for the return of manned missions from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

“Human spaceflight can inspire the public and inspire scientists in a way that no other work can be,” ULA CEO Tory Bruno told Fox News. “It means a lot for us to the human spaceflight from American soil, returning Americans, so I can’t begin to tell you what it means for me and my team.”

United Launch Alliance is involved in NASA’s Commercial Crew program that the American astronauts in the space missions launched from U.S. soil. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the U.S. has been relying on the Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, astronauts to the International Space Station.

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NASA recently named to the nine American astronauts who the crew of the test flights and the first missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Starliner will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from ULA’s Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral.

“We have a Crew Access Tower that allows the astronauts to come in the height above the ground, where they their capsule,” Bruno said. “It also has a Crew Access Arm that can swing out, with its White Room, and allow them to get access to that capsule, and then pull away so that the rocket can leave.”

A long-term function of human spaceflight, the White Rooms are specially designed areas, to prevent contaminants in the spacecraft. Astronauts also use White Rooms last phone calls to their family before blasting off in the space.

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ULA also an escape system makes use of an advanced zipline-type technology that allows the astronauts and launch pad personnel to quickly evacuate the tower in case of an accident. “That would allow them to quickly leave the area at a safe distance,” Bruno explained.

The crew for the Starliner test flight of the NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu-Mann and Boeing-astronaut Chris Ferguson. The first Boeing mission to the International space station will be manned by NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Suni Williams.

Boeing is planning for an uncrewed flight test of the CST-100 Starliner later this year or early next year.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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