Boeing’s Starliner capsule docks with the space station in an unmanned flight test.  Written by Reuters

Boeing’s Starliner capsule docks with the space station in an unmanned flight test. Written by Reuters

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© Reuters. PHOTO: Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule seen after International Space Station launch delayed due to test flight in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, August 4, 2021. REUTERS / Joe Skipper / File Photo

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Authors: Joey Roulette and Steve Gorman

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Boeing’s new Starliner crew capsule landed on the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, completing the main goal in a test flight with high stakes in orbit without astronauts.

The encounter of the CST-100 Starliner in the shape of a rubber drop with the orbital research office, currently home to a seven-member crew, occurred nearly 26 hours after the capsule was launched from the U.S. Cape Canaveral space force base in Florida.

The Starliner flew on top of the Atlas (NYSE 🙂 V rocket delivered by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance (ULA) on Thursday and arrived in its predicted preliminary orbit 31 minutes later despite the failure of two thrusters on board.

Boeing (NYSE 🙂 said the two failed thrusters posed no risk to the rest of the space flight, which comes after more than two years of delays and costly engineering downtime in a program designed to give NASA another vehicle to send its astronauts into orbit and out nje.

The connection to the ISS was made at 20:28 EDT (00:28 GMT Saturday) as the two vehicles flew 271 miles (436 km) over the South Indian Ocean, according to commentators on NASA’s live webcast.

BUMPY ROAD BACK IN ORBIT

Much depended on the outcome, after the unfortunate first test flight at the end of 2019, almost ended in the loss of the vehicle after a software malfunction that effectively thwarted the spacecraft’s ability to reach the space station.

Subsequent problems with the Starline propulsion system, supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne, prompted Boeing to purge a second attempt to launch the capsule last summer.

The Starliner remained grounded for another nine months as the two companies argued over what caused the fuel valve shutdown and which firm was responsible for repairing it, Reuters reported last week.

Boeing said that it finally solved the problem with a temporary solution and is planning a redesign after this summer.

In addition to looking for the cause of the two failed thrusters shortly after Thursday’s launch, Boeing said it was monitoring some unexpected behaviors detected by Starliner’s thermal control system, but that capsule temperatures remained stable.

“This is all part of the learning process for managing Starliner in orbit,” Boeing mission commentator Steve Siceoff said during NASA’s webcast.

The capsule is scheduled to depart from the space station on Wednesday for a return flight to Earth, which will end with a parachute softened airbag in the New Mexico desert.

Success is considered key to Boeing as the Chicago-based company struggles to emerge from successive crises in the jet and space defense business. The Starliner program alone has cost nearly $ 600 million in engineering failures since the 2019 crash.

If all goes well with the current mission, Starliner could take his first team of astronauts to the space station in the fall.

For now, the only passenger was a research dummy, capriciously named Rosie the Rocketeer and dressed in a blue flight suit, tied to the commander’s seat, collecting crew cabin information during the voyage, plus 800 pounds (227 kg) of cargo to deliver to the space station .

The orbital platform is currently occupied by a crew of three NASA astronauts, an astronaut from the European Space Agency from Italy and three Russian cosmonauts.

Since resuming manned flights into orbit from the United States in 2020, nine years after the end of the space shuttle program, the U.S. space agency has had to rely solely on Falcon 9 rockets and Elona Muska SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules to fly NASA astronauts. .

Previously, the only other option for getting to the orbital laboratory was towing on the Russian spacecraft Soyuz.



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