Boeing Space Starliner makes history by docking with the International Space Station for the first time

24 hours after the mission departed from a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, the Boeing Space Starliner capsule docked with the International Space Station this morning next to the Harmony module, after a series of autonomous maneuvers supervised by members of Expedition 67 aboard the station. Another phase of the space mission has been successfully completed, which is a test of the Starliner capsule’s ability to take humans to and from space..

See footage of when the CST-100 Starliner docked safely with the Space Station module

The Boeing Starliner capsule left on the back of an Atlas V rocket and this time there are no passengers on board, but the capsule, about 5 meters high, is capable of carrying a crew of up to seven people.

After two failed attempts, in 2019 and again in the summer of last year, this time the launch went well and the capsule has arrived at the International Space Station, where it will stay for the next few days, and then return to Earth.

See the best images of the mission

Some steps still need to be taken for the mission to be considered successful and to ensure that Boeing can finally start doing what SpaceX has been doing for some time with its spacecraft. crew dragon. First, you have to overcome the obstacles, because the the launch was not without problems and after the start of the mission there is still a lot to check on the vehicle systems.

During Starliner’s first flight test in 2019, software issues caused the capsule to could not reach the correct orbitafter launch, and set yourself on the road that would lead you to international space station. It was explained at the time that a problem with the timing system meant that the capsule’s thrusters were not fired at the correct time, too much fuel was expended and it was no longer possible to line up on the right course.

This Thursday, the thrusters were again. Thirty-one minutes after Starliner launched, the capsule separated from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that carried it into space and four boosters were ignited, to burn for less than a minute and give the necessary push to put the capsule in the right direction. orbit.

A second after they started, one of the thrusters extinguished, a reserve was ignited, which would also extinguish earlier than expected, forcing another reserve to be ignited. The failure never jeopardized the mission, as the capsule is equipped with 12 thrusters and 10 were found to be operational, but it will be analyzed to identify the origin and prevent it from happening again, said Steve Stich responsible for the NASA Commercial Crew Program, at the press release conference following the launch. Note that the thrusters will be reused in the approach to the ISS and to position Starliner in the correct orbit to return to Earth..

So far it has been proven ability of the vehicle’s sensor system to provide automatic docking with a door that opened to receive her on the International Space Station. The trip is also used to check that the on-board systems are working correctly in reverse and at all the stages necessary to ensure the return trip.

Arrival at the IED was today at 7:10 p.m. ET, dawn in Lisbon (12:10 a.m.). THE Starliner will spend five days on the rig and return home on May 25 to land somewhere in the desert., in the western United States. If all goes as planned, the next mission will be manned and should be prepared by the summer, regarding the choice of the team of four astronauts who will carry out the maiden flight, the date of the flight will not be scheduled until after the end of this task.

However, the American manufacturer will have to solve several problems. Starliner’s parachute descent system is still undergoing certification. the problem that prevented the second test flight last August, canceled a few hours before departure after safety failures were confirmed in some valves, is also not definitively resolved. The solution used in the current mission is provisional and when there is a definitive one, it will have to be tested and certified.

Starliner left Cape Canaveral at 6:45 p.m. ET (11:45 p.m. Lisbon) on Thursday. Today, the Space Station astronaut team will open the capsule at 11:45 a.m. ET (4:45 p.m. Lisbon), a moment that will be broadcast live by NASA. Inside you’ll find over 350 pounds of cargo, including Boeing supplies and equipment. Also making the trip is Rosie the Rocketeer, in one of the photos in the gallery below, occupying a place that on the next Starliner trip will already be filled by a living astronaut.

Nope return to Starliner will bring to Earth more than 250 kilos of material, primarily refillable oxygen solution systems that ensure breathable air for station crew members. Deposits will be replenished and returned to the EEI on a future trip.

A Boeing was one of the companies chosen by NASA to sign a contract, as part of a program that gradually transfers the development and operation of space vehicles to private companies., with the financial support of the North American Space Agency. As SpaceX faced several challenges in moving from the concept that landed it the NASA contract to practice, but it took longer to pull it off than Elon Musk’s company.

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