Musk’s Starlink Competitor, Boeing’s Starliner Capsule Docks With International Space Station | Science

Boeing’s Starliner capsule docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday (20), after an unmanned test flight, considered crucial to restoring the reputation of the American aerospace giant after a series of failures.

The capsule took off Friday night from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The docking took place at 9:28 pm, more than an hour late.

Astronauts aboard the ISS and the control room in Houston closely monitored the docking. The capsule first stabilized 230 meters from the station. Then, after a slight advance, he retreated, to show that he could do it if necessary. Finally, after a new controlled stop, although longer than planned, 10 meters from the ISS, the delicate final maneuver began. She approached slowly, until she made contact.

“Starliner successfully completes its first historic docking with the International Space Station, opening a new route to the orbital laboratory for crews,” said a commentator on the US space agency’s (NASA) live stream.

The capsule’s hatch, which carries 230 kilograms of supplies to the ISS, must not be opened. Starliner is expected to remain docked to the ISS for five days before returning to Earth to land in the New Mexico state desert at White Sands base.

The mission’s success is critical to repairing Boeing’s reputation, damaged since its first failure in 2019. At the time, the attempt to dock with the ISS failed due to software errors, which represented an excessive burning of fuel to reach its destination and even the possibility of destroying the ship during its return.

A second attempt was scheduled for August of last year, but was delayed moments before launch to resolve a valve problem, and the capsule had to be returned to the factory.

NASA is looking to certify Starliner as a second “taxi” service for astronauts to the ISS, a role that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already performed since the 2020 success of its test mission with the Dragon capsule.

Both companies received fixed-value contracts of $4.2 billion for Boeing and $2.6 billion for SpaceX in 2014, shortly after the end of the space shuttle program, at a time when the United States depended on Russian Soyuz rockets to reach the orbital laboratory.

Boeing, with its century-old history, was considered by many to be a safe bet against the practically inexperienced SpaceX. But Musk’s company recently sent its fourth routine crew to the research platform, as Boeing’s development delays cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Starliner’s only passenger is a doll named Rosie the Rocketeer – a wordplay on the star of the American WWII recruitment campaign – whose job is to collect sensor-based flight data about what humans should experience.

“We’re a little jealous of Rosie,” said NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who is expected to be part of the first crew selected for a demonstration mission if it succeeds.

The capsule will spend about five days in space, before de-docking and returning to Earth on May 25, using giant parachutes to land in the desert of the western United States.

NASA deems it necessary to have a second low-Earth orbit travel provider in case of problems with SpaceX.

About Raju Singh

Raju has an exquisite taste. For him, video games are more than entertainment and he likes to discuss forms and art.

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