Boeing Starliner spacecraft completes successful docking to the International Space Station

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On the early morning of Saturday 21 May 2022, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft made its first connection to the International Space Station to complete a primary goal of the programme’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).

With no astronauts on board, the autonomous systems of Starliner and ground controllers in Houston guided the vehicle through a carefully choreographed series of manoeuvres to steadily bring Starliner closer to the International Space Station (ISS) before docking. Astronauts aboard the ISS monitored Starliner throughout the flight and at times commanded the spacecraft to verify control capabilities.

Boeing Starliner spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. Photo copyright © Boeing

“Today’s successful docking of the Starliner is another important step in this rehearsal for sending astronauts into orbit safely and reliably,” said Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Ted Colbert.

Launching atop a human-rated United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on May 19, 2022, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, Starliner spent its first hours in space performing a series of system demonstrations allowing mission managers to verify the spacecraft was healthy and able to manoeuvre safely. After docking, the Starliner recharged its batteries using solar arrays located on the service module.

“Starliner has proven safe, autonomous rendezvous and docking capability,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch. “We’re honoured to join the fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of conducting transportation services to the space station for NASA.”

Equipped with a fully functional life support system, as well as all of the other critical systems to support humans, the spacecraft and mission are designed to give Boeing and NASA enough data to certify the spacecraft for long-duration crewed missions to the International Space Station.

During the Starliner’s docked time on orbit, the crew of the station will float inside the spacecraft, conduct an initial cabin tour, and periodically perform system checkouts while ground controllers evaluate data gathered during its flight.

21 May 2022

Photo: copyright © Boeing

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