The Boeing CST-100 Starliner docked at the International Space Station for the first time Friday night.
The spacecraft made its first contact with the International Space Station (ISS) Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT.
Boeing said – in addition to the ground controllers in Houston – Astronauts on the space station He observed the Starliner throughout the flight and occasionally commanded the spacecraft to check its control capabilities.
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Although two of the thrusters failed, the robotic encounter took off without major hitches.
The Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 6:54 p.m. ET Thursday.
The Boeing’s orbital flight test-2 (OFT-2) It is the second unmanned test flight of a commercial spacecraft.
The mission is designed to give Boeing and NASA enough data to certify the spacecraft for long-duration, manned missions to the International Space Station.
“Starliner spent its first hours in space conducting a series of system demonstrations that allow mission managers to verify that the spacecraft was sound and able to maneuver safely. After docking, Starliner recharged its batteries using the service module’s solar arrays,” Boeing said.
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During docking, station crew will float inside the Starliner, take an initial tour of the cabin and periodically perform system checks while ground controllers evaluate data collected during its flight.
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According to NASA, the Starliner slot opening is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday.
Starliner is leaving the space stationcarrying more than 600 pounds of merchandise, on Wednesday, May 25.
That shipment will include reusable tanks from the oxygen-nitrogen recharge system that provide breathable air to station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished and brought back to the International Space Station for a futuristic flight.
after certification, NASA missions on Starliner It will carry up to four crew members.
“OFT-2 will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying the Boeing crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station,” the agency wrote.
“Starliner has proven safe, autonomous and docking capability,” Jim Shelton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch, said in a statement. “We are honored to join the fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of performing transportation services to the NASA space station.”
Both Boeing and SpaceX It got contracts from NASA in 2014 to build a spacecraft capable of ferrying crews to the orbiting lab, but SpaceX has been the only company to take astronauts so far.
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The only other time the Starliner was in space, it ended up in the wrong orbit.
The company’s first test flight in 2019 was cut short due to software errors and corroded valves stopped the capsule from taking off last summer.
Bree Stimson of Fox Business and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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