Boeing’s first Starliner capsule on the International Space Station has officially opened to astronauts living aboard the orbiting laboratory.
commercial starliner Space ship, who arrived friday On an unmanned test flight to the station, it was opened by NASA astronaut Robert Haines at 12:04 p.m. EDT (1604 GMT) to begin about five days of tests on the capsule. He is a major teacher of Boeing and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which selected Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to International Space Station in 2014.
Hines said, referring to Starliner, SpaceX’s dragon crew Russia Soyuz capsule. “So this is a very important day in NASA’s history and sets the stage for the future as we begin to enable commercial flight in low Earth orbit as NASA visits the Moon and eventually to Mars.”
SpaceX has made five astronaut flights for NASA since May 2020, but Boeing’s Starliner has been on a much clearer path.
Starliner failed to reach the International Space Station during the first OFT in December 2019 due to Software glitchesIts second attempt was then dropped hours before takeoff in August 2021 after the mission team discovered it stuck valves in the capsule propulsion system. These problems did not surface in the current Starliner test flight, the so-called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). (Although there are some minor glitches in the propulsion system and cooling system and a slight delay during docking).
“Those are the things we expect in flight testing and that’s why we tested,” Haynes said on Saturday. “If we don’t find something like that then we’re probably doing something wrong.”
The Thruster malfunctions shortly after Thursday’s launch It doesn’t seem to be related to previous issues with the car. At a post-launch press conference Thursday night, representatives from NASA and Boeing doubled their confidence in Starliner to complete its mission, regardless of new thrust problems.
“The system was designed to be redundant, and it worked just as it was supposed to,” said Mark Naby, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program.
Starliner spent Thursday night chasing the orbiting lab, beginning to perform appointment test maneuvers just after 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) on Friday. Before moving to the dock, the capsule has successfully demonstrated its ability to stop when driving as well as pull away from the station in the event of an emergency.
Satisfied with the results, Boeing flight operators instructed Starliner to begin docking procedures, and the vehicle began its slow progress toward the station’s Harmony unit. At 8:28 p.m. EDT on Friday (0028 GMT on May 21), the Starliner officially docked with the International Space Station.
Over the next few days, crew members aboard the Starliner orbital laboratory will unload 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of supplies and provisions, then fill its hull with nearly 600 pounds (270 kilograms) of cargo set for return to Earth.
Staying aboard the Starliner will be a Boeing test dummy, dubbed Emotional Rosie RocketerAfter the fame of Rosie the Riveter in the era of World War II. Wearing one of Boeing’s blue spacesuits, Rosie will remain strapped into the Starliner’s cockpit to return to Earth.
Sensors on the Rosie were used to measure the acceleration forces tested on the body during the refinery’s first test flight. In OFT-2, sensors are now used to measure the effects of those same forces on the Starliner seats during re-entry and landing. The Starliner is set to return to Earth after a four- to five-day stay on the space station, a schedule largely dictated by the weather at the craft’s likely landing sites in the western United States.
Boeing also added an extra bit of fun to the Starliner’s journey to the space station in the form of Jebedia “Jeep” Karman stuffed dollKerbonaut, pioneer of space exploration game kirbal satellite programwhich Boeing used as a zero-gram indicator to show when the capsule reached space.
Editor’s note: This story, initially posted at 6AM ET, was updated at 2PM ET with details from the Starliner slot opened by the astronauts.