Boeing's Starliner Completes Successful Docking at ISS After Propulsion Issues


Boeing's Crew Flight Test (CFT) spacecraft, Starliner, has successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) after a series of propulsion system issues and leaks threatened to derail the historic mission.

The spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams, was launched on Wednesday, June 7, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. However, it soon became apparent that Starliner was suffering from multiple leaks in its propulsion system. Despite this, the spacecraft was able to successfully dock with the ISS on Thursday, June 8.

NASA and Boeing teams worked tirelessly to address the leaks and related problems with the propulsion system, and were able to increase pressure to provide the astronauts with adequate engine jet performance for the maneuvers leading up to the docking.

During the CFT mission, Wilmore and Williams will verify that Starliner can serve as a lifeboat for the full ISS crew in case of an emergency. In addition, they will test manual maneuvers on the spacecraft during its return flight home.

This is a landmark achievement for Boeing, as the company seeks to join SpaceX in providing regular ferry service to and from the ISS under NASA's Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX has already flown its Crew Dragon spacecraft 13 times carrying 50 astronauts to space.

With the successful completion of its CFT mission, Starliner is a step closer to being certified for its contracted six rotational missions to the ISS, which could begin as early as February 2025.

The ISS is now temporarily populated by nine people, including SpaceX's Crew-8 members who arrived in February on Crew Dragon Endeavour.

This achievement was celebrated by NASA administrator Bill Nelson and Ken Bowersox, the associate administrator for NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate, who remarked on the significance of having two American vehicles at the ISS.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing two U.S. vehicles at the International Space Station," said Bowersox. "I know Butch and Suni will probably get a kick out of that if they get a chance to look out the windows and see a Dragon there, see a Starliner there."

This development marks a new and exciting chapter in the partnership between NASA and private industry, demonstrating the success of the agency's Commercial Crew Program and its commitment to safe and sustainable transportation for future human spaceflight.

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