Boeing's Starliner docks with the International Space Station for the first time

·2 min read
boeing starliner spaceship grey gumdrop capsule with blue markings edited for brightness
Boeing's Starliner successfully docked with the International Space Station on Friday.NASA/Kim Shiflett
  • Boeing's Starliner craft has docked with the International Space Station for the first time.

  • Success of uncrewed test flight follows previous failures and delays.

  • Docking shows the Starliner is capable of transporting passengers to the space station.

Boeing's Starliner passenger spacecraft has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time after a previous failure and delays.

The CST-100 Starliner was created for NASA's Commercial Crew Program and has now shown that it is capable of transporting people to the ISS.

The successful docking of the uncrewed Starliner comes after a previous attempt failed in 2019.  It was not able to connect with the ISS because a software problem stopped it reaching the right orbit.

"We've learned a lot about the capability of our spacecraft and the resilience of our team since the first Starliner launch," Boeing's Mark Nappi said on Friday.

"We still have a lot of operational testing ahead as we prepare to rendezvous with the space station, but we're ready to demonstrate the system we've worked so hard on is capable of carrying astronauts to space," he said ahead of the launch.

The second test flight was delayed by NASA last year while it worked on an oxidizer isolation valve problem on the spacecraft but the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida finally went ahead on Thursday.

The mission aimed to give Boeing and NASA enough data to show Starliner is capable of transporting passengers to the ISS.

ISS crew are expected to open the spacecraft's hatch on Saturday to float inside Starliner and carry out checks while ground controllers assess data from its flight, Boeing said.

Starliner launch
An Atlas V rocket carrying the Boeing Starliner spacecraft lifts off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday.Paul Hennessy/Getty Images

Starliner will stay tethered to the space station with most of its systems powered down until it is ready to undock and return to Earth.

Jim Chilton of Boeing said: "Starliner has proven safe, autonomous rendezvous and docking capability. We're honored to join the fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of conducting transportation services to the space station for NASA."

Boeing's Starliner was designed to carry up to seven passengers, or a combination of passengers and cargo, for NASA service missions to carry out scientific research on the ISS and can be reused 10 times with a six-month turnaround time.

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