Boeing’s Starliner Open to Astronauts Living Onboard the International Space Station

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Boeing's Starliner
Courtesy of NASA Johnson (Flickr CC0)

Boeing’s Starliner first capsule is officially open to astronauts living onboard the orbiting International Space Station lab.

NASA astronaut Robert Hines opened the test flight to the station on Friday at 12:04 p.m. EDT (1604 GMT) to test the capsule for five days. Right now, SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russia’s Soyuz capsule are the two other human-rated vehicles docked at the space station.

It’s a significant milestone for Boeing and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which selected SpaceX and Boeing to fly astronauts to the International Space Station in 2014. He said:

Since May 2020, SpaceX flew five astronaut flights for NASA, but Boeing’s Starliner had a shakier road. It failed to reach the ISS in December 2019 due to software glitches, and the second attempt in August 2021 was scrubbed hours before liftoff because of stuck valves in the capsule’s propulsion system. The 2019 mishap has cost Boeing’s Starliner nearly $600 million in engineering setbacks.

These issues did not show up for Boeing’s Starliner recent OFT-2 (Orbital Flight Test-2) trial flight, but there were minor cooling and thruster system glitches and slight delays during docking.

Boeing's Starliner
Courtesy of NASA Kennedy (Flickr CC0)

The thruster malfunction was not related to the previous issues. Boeing and NASA representatives stood firm on their confidence to complete the mission regardless of the thruster problems.

On Thursday, Boeing’s Starliner chased down the orbital laboratory and executed rendezvous test maneuvers, and it went off without a significant hitch. The capsule strongly exhibited its capability to cease on command and withdraw from the station during an emergency.

After the satisfactory result, Boeing’s Starliner flight operators began docking procedures, and on May 21, around 8:28 p.m. EDT, Boeing’s Starliner anchored with the International Space Station.

After the satisfactory result, Boeing flight operators began docking procedures. At 8:28 p.m. EDT on May 21, Boeing’s Starliner officially docked with the International Space Station.

The seven astronauts aboard the orbiting lab will unload 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of gear and groceries, pack its hull with 600 pounds (270 kg) of cargo and return to Earth, landing in the New Mexico desert next Wednesday.

If the rest of Boeing’s Starliner mission goes well with its current mission, it will launch its first crew of astronauts to space by this year.

Right now, the only Boeing Starliner passenger was a research dummy called Rosie and 800 pounds (363kg) of cargo for the space station. The orbital platform is presently occupied by three NASA astronauts, three Russian cosmonauts, and an Italian astronaut from the European Space Agency.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

SPACE:
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is open for astronauts at space station for 1st time; Josh Dinner
ALJAZEERA: Boeing docks Starliner capsule to ISS for the first time
The Guardian: Boeing’s Starliner capsule docks for first time with International Space Station

Featured and Top Image by NASA Johnson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by NASA JSC/Boeing Courtesy of NASA Kennedy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

 

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