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Boeing spacesuit patch
A quick shot from a Boeing video shows a Starliner patch on a blue spacesuit. (Boeing Photo)

Boeing’s Starliner space taxi won’t be carrying astronauts to the International Space Station for at least another year and a half, but we may soon find out what they’ll be wearing.

We may even find out who the first test pilots will be.

Boeing Defense teased its coming attractions in a tweet proclaiming that its “CST-100 Starliner is suiting up,” accompanied by pictures showing design sketches and details for spacesuits in Boeing blue.

The unveiling is scheduled for Wednesday.

In a follow-up tweet, Boeing told its followers that they should “tune in to see” an American flag on the suit, and noted that part of Starliner’s mission is to retrieve a flag that was left on the space station during the last space shuttle flight in 2011.

The commander for that flight was Chris Ferguson, who since retired from NASA and is now director of crew and mission operations for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. Ferguson just might serve as Boeing’s test pilot for Starliner’s first crewed test flight, currently set for August 2018.

NASA’s plan calls for a Boeing pilot and a NASA astronaut to take that first Starliner trip. Boeing originally had intended to announce who would be on that flight, and unveil the spacesuits, back in the summer of 2015. But getting the Starliner through testing has been taking longer than anticipated.

Today’s tweet hints that at least some revelations are finally at hand.

But about that flag: The Old Glory that was left on the station in 2011 is supposed to go to the first crew to arrive on a U.S.-made spaceship launched from a U.S. spaceport – and the current schedule calls for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to fly the first crew, in May 2018. The schedule has repeatedly shifted to the right, however, so the winner in this commercial space race is still up in the air.

Update for 9:55 a.m. PT Jan. 24: Actually, NASA named the four astronauts for the first commercial crew missions back in the summer of 2015, as Boeing had originally anticipated. They’re Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Doug Hurley and Sunita Williams.

In a tweet, Ars Technica’s Eric Berger suggests it’s too early to say which astronaut is destined to go on Boeing’s first Starliner flight – or on SpaceX’s, for that matter:

But he says it’s not too early to guess who’ll be wearing Boeing’s spacesuit when it’s unveiled:

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