First docking to the International Space Station (ISS) of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft occurred on Saturday, clearing the path for future trips that might send people into orbit. As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, this was the Starliners’ third attempt at a voyage to test the end-to-end capabilities of the system. In December 2019, a succession of software errors led to the failure of the first test.
This time around, Boeing delayed the aircraft mere hours before liftoff after finding certain propellant valves that weren’t operating properly. Boeing Space tweeted that “the spacecraft docked to the Boeing-built International Docking Adapter at 7:28 p.m. CT (5:58 a.m. India time)” thanks to the efforts of NASA and the Starliner crew. NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) saw the Starliner launch from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket on Friday.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated in a statement, “I am extremely pleased with the NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance teams that have worked so hard to see Starliner on its journey to the International Space Station.” “Our teams have persevered in the face of hardship to help our country and the rest of the world. My hopes are high for an end-to-end spacecraft test of the Starliner that would allow future flights with humans “she said.
When NASA’s Starliner is certified, it will be able to ferry up to four astronauts to the station, allowing the crew to grow and the amount of science and study that can be done there to grow. In order for NASA to certify Boeing’s crew transportation system for frequent flights with astronauts to and from the International Space Station, OFT-2 will give essential data.
The Starliner spacecraft will undock from the International Space Station on May 25 and return to Earth via a desert landing in the western United States.
It will bring back more than 600 pounds of cargo, including reusable tanks that provide station staff members with breathing air. On a future mission, the tanks will be repaired on Earth and returned to the station. Launch and insertion into orbit are big achievements for SpaceX’s second unmanned trip, moving the US closer to having two separate crew systems flying missions into and out of the space station.
Source: Economic Times