Comprehensive coverage

Boeing's Starliner manned spacecraft took off for the first time to the International Space Station

It is expected to arrive at the space station tomorrow, 6/6. On board the Starliner are veteran NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sonny Williams. Both astronauts are former US Navy test pilots and have a combined flight experience of over 11,000 hours

History for Boeing and NASA, four years late, when the Starliner spacecraft, which serves as Boeing's new "astronaut taxi", was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral after several (unmanned) failures. The launch took place today (5/62024) at 10:52 a.m. EST (17:52 p.m. Israel time) aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The flight is still defined as a test flight.

After the successful launch from Cape Canaveral, the Starliner is now on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), where it is expected to arrive on Thursday, June 6 at around 12:15 PM Eastern Time (EDT). During the next eight days, various integrity tests will be examined and performed to verify the spacecraft's suitability for crew systems.

On board the Starliner are veteran NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sonny Williams. Both astronauts are former US Navy test pilots and have a combined flight experience of over 11,000 hours.

This launch marks a huge step for the Commercial Crew Program, which over the years has gone through many and complex processes.

The Starliner program, also known as Crew Flight Test (CFT), has come a long way since the early 21st century, when the goal was to operate two commercial American spacecraft for astronaut missions to the ISS. The program started back in 2006 and there were a large number of delays and technical glitches along the way, but in the end it has reached this moment today.

The process included flights without a crew, errors in various systems, logistical problems and technical failures which constituted many obstacles but the company was able to overcome them. The success of this mission will allow the Starliner spacecraft to be organized for longer missions, with the first operational flights expected as early as next year.

Meanwhile SpaceX won the race

The competition between Boeing and SpaceX is a central part of the development of the commercial space industry in the United States. This is in accordance with NASA's vision to open the field of space flights to the private market in order to reduce costs and encourage innovation, which led to the awarding of contracts to the two companies in the Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, was the first to offer a commercial solution for launching astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using the Dragon spacecraft. This spacecraft made its first manned test flight, Demo-2, in May 2020. The mission was a significant success, and SpaceX's ships have already carried out 12 successful missions since then, sending additional astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's success rested on a rapid and innovative development capability, as well as an ability to deal with technical malfunctions relatively quickly. For example, the Dragon suffered an explosion during the test of the exhaust system in 2019, but the company was able to correct the error and return the spacecraft to service at the same time as meeting NASA's time goals.

Boeing - the Starliner spacecraft

Boeing faced more significant challenges in the development of the Starliner than the competitor. Although the Boeing Company is an old and experienced company in the aerospace industry, the development process of the Starliner was longer and more complex than expected. The first unmanned test flight (OFT-1) in December 2019 failed to reach the International Space Station due to timing problems in the control system.

The various malfunctions required additional investments in time and resources from Boeing to solve them. A second uncrewed test flight (OFT-2) in May 2022 managed to reach the space station, but it too required examination of additional malfunctions in the subsequent period, including problems with the design of parachutes and electrical wires that were found to be more flammable than expected.

The launch of the Starliner on June 5, 2024, is the culmination of hard work and a complex testing process. Now that the Starliner is on its way to the ISS, Boeing and NASA hope that the tests performed during the flight will qualify the spacecraft for additional missions and will continue to contribute to the industrial and commercial development of spaceflight.

Assuming the current mission is successful, the next Starliner crew will prepare for longer missions to the space station, including tools and additional systems that will test the integrity of the spacecraft on these missions. In this way, Boeing and NASA advance the realization of the vision to ensure the permanent presence of commercial crews in space.

More of the topic in Hayadan:

One response

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.