Boeing’s Starliner successfully docked to the International Space Station Friday night for the first time.
And right now, Boeing is beginning the official hatch-opening ceremon, in which the space station astronauts already on the ISS “open the hatch to the vehicle and retrieve some cargo that’s packed inside,” explains the Verge:
NASA tasked Boeing with conducting an uncrewed flight demonstration of Starliner to show that the capsule can hit all of the major milestones it’ll need to hit when it is carrying passengers… This mission is called OFT-2 since it’s technically a do-over of a mission that Boeing attempted back in 2019, called OFT. During that flight, Starliner launched to space as planned, but a software glitch prevented the capsule from getting in the right orbit it needed to reach to rendezvous with the ISS. Boeing had to bring the vehicle home early, and the company never demonstrated Starliner’s ability to dock with the ISS….
Using a series of sensors, the capsule autonomously guided itself onto an open docking port on the space station…. Docking occurred a little over an hour behind schedule, due to some issues with Starliner’s graphics and docking ring, which were resolved ahead of the docking….
[Thursday] At 6:54PM ET, Starliner successfully launched to space on top of an Atlas V rocket, built and operated by the United Launch Alliance. Once Starliner separated from the Atlas V, it had to fire its own thrusters to insert itself into the proper orbit for reaching the space station. However, after that maneuver took place, Boeing and NASA revealed that two of the 12 thrusters Starliner uses for the procedure failed and cut off too early. The capsule’s flight control system was able to kick in and rerouted to a working thruster, which helped get Starliner into a stable orbit…. Today, Boeing revealed that a drop in chamber pressure had caused the early cutoff of the thruster, but that system behaved normally during follow-up burns of the thrusters. And with redundancies on the spacecraft, the issue “does not pose a risk to the rest of the flight test,” according to Boeing.
Boeing also noted today that the Starliner team is investigating some weird behavior of a “thermal cooling loop” but said that temperatures are stable on the spacecraft.
From the space station, NASA astronaut Bob Hines said the achievement “marks a great milestone towards providing additional commercial access to low Earth orbit, sustaining the ISS and enabling NASA’s goal of returning humans to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
“Great accomplishments in human spaceflight are long remembered by history. Today will be no different.”
Long-time Slashdot reader mmell shares this schedule (EST):
5/20, 3:30 pm — Starliner docking with ISS.
5/21, 11:30 am — Safety checks completed. Hatches opened.
5/24, 12:00 pm — Starliner loading completed. Hatched closed.
5/25, 2:00 pm — Starliner undocking from ISS.
5/25, 5:45 pm — Coverage of Starliner landing begins.
Again, the streams will be broadcast at NASA Television. I don’t know about any of you, but I know what …read more