It’s not just about a wing and a prayer anymore.
Boeing docked a space capsule with the International Space Station late Friday evening, completing a years-long mission marred by setbacks and cost overruns.
The Boeing Starliner will carry astronauts one day but only carried a dummy on this trip, which took off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday and lasted about 25 hours.
NASA celebrated this feat because it means two companies have now shown their ability to transport astronauts to the ISS. SpaceX has already flown several crewed missions.
“Today marks an important milestone,” said NASA astronaut Bob Hines. “Starliner looks beautiful on the front of the station.”
The Boeing Starliner’s maiden voyage of 2019 ended in an accident as the capsule did not even reach orbit of the ISS. A second trip was planned for 2021, but several corroded valves were discovered just before takeoff. Fixing this problem cost Boeing more than $600 million.
Even this trip was not without problems, as four thrusters failed during the liaison period. However, the backup power did the job after a stressful one hour wait.
“The last few hours have been excruciating, you know, seeing this spacecraft just out of range of (the) ISS,” NASA official Kathy Lueders told reporters after docking. “This is a really critical demonstration mission.”
Boeing’s first crewed mission could be launched as early as this year. Starliner is expected to return to Earth and land in New Mexico next week.
With dispatch services