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Published Time: 06.06.2024 - 05:04:26 Modified Time: 06.06.2024 - 05:04:26

With all those issues resolved, and Starliner on its way to the space station, it appears this third try is indeed the charm. Now launched, Wilmore and Williams are taking Starliner on its maiden flight, putting the vehicle through its paces ahead of operational missions for NASA. After the Space Shuttle retired in 2011, NASA partnered with two commercial companies -- Boeing and SpaceX -- to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. Starliner launch, Starliner, boeing starliner, NASA, boeing starliner launch


Published June 5, 2024 at 6:45 PM EDT




MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images / AFPBoeing's Starliner capsule lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Wednesday. It's the first time the capsule, powered by an Atlas V rocket made by United Launch Alliance, has flown . Two NASA astronauts are on board for a day-long trip to the International Space Station. This test flight is years behind scheduled and billions of dollars over budget.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The third time was the charm.

Boeing’s long-delayed Starliner space capsule lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station carrying two NASA astronauts and reached orbit twelve minutes later. The crew will spend the next 25 hours racing to catch up to the International Space Station.

While fixing that issue, Boeing discovered another: a helium leak. The gas is used in Starliner’s propulsion system. After a review of the data, NASA was confident Boeing could successfully fly the mission.

With all those issues resolved, and Starliner on its way to the space station, it appears this third try is indeed the charm. Now launched, Wilmore and Williams are taking Starliner on its maiden flight, putting the vehicle through its paces ahead of operational missions for NASA. After the Space Shuttle retired in 2011, NASA partnered with two commercial companies -- Boeing and SpaceX -- to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

But Boeing has lagged behind its commercial space transportation counterpart SpaceX, which has flown nine missions for NASA already and another four private flights. An uncrewed Starliner mission in 2019 failed to reach the station, in part due to faulty flight computer code. A re-flight of the launch in 2022 was considered a success by NASA and Boeing, but issues were later discovered in the capsule’s parachute systems.

An analysis also found tape used to manage the hundreds of feet of cabling within the spacecraft was flammable. Boeing fixed those issues and received NASA’s go-ahead to launch the crew

MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images / AFP / AFPNASA astronauts Butch Wilmore (L) and Suni Williams, wearing Boeing spacesuits, as they depart the operations and checkout building for the launchpad on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It's the third trip to space for both of them.

Willmore and Williams will test key systems of Starliner as it docks with the space station, including life support and communication. While the spacecraft can essentially fly itself, the duo will test out manual controls of the vehicle as it approaches the orbiting outpost.

The crew will spend a week aboard the station with a scheduled landing under a canopy of parachutes in the southwest U.S. Teams at NASA and Boeing will comb through the data from this flight before certifying the vehicle for operational mission. NASA plans to split astronaut flights between Boeing and SpaceX, with trips to the I.S.S. happening every six months.

Brendan Byrne [Copyright 2024 Central Florida Public Media]


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