Aerospace giant Boeing launched its Starliner space capsule to the International Space Station on Thursday for a crucial test of its ability to fly into orbit safely.
The highly delayed flight was Boeing’s third attempt to complete its unmanned flight to the space station in the opposite direction after the company due to side-by-side software malfunctions խնդիրներ Problems with spacecraft fuel valves. The test flight is part of Boeing’s contract with NASA – a possible step to eventually transport the capsule to the astronauts.
It: Starliner capsule was lifted Thursday from Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida at 18:54 ET. The spacecraft was launched on top of the Atlas V rocket, which is expected to land autonomously with the space station on Friday evening.
If there is no one on board, the stakes are high for Boeing. The company has significantly lost to its competitor SpaceX, which also signed a contract with NASA to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
In 2019, SpaceX completed the pilot flight of its own Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the following year two astronauts successfully flew to the space station. Since then, the company has operated five full-fledged flights to the orbital laboratory.
Software problems prevented the Starliner capsule from attempting to land at the space station during its first test flight in 2019. Fuel valve problems What was discovered last summer thwarted the second attempt, causing an additional nine months of delays.
Now Boeing and NASA say the problems are solved, they are ready to fly.
“We would not be here at this time if we were not confident that this would be a successful mission,” NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore, who will eventually fly the first Starliner mission, told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.
The flight, known as the Orbital Flight Test-2 or OFT-2, requires the spacecraft to meet on its own and join the International Space Station. The capsule will then spend about five days in orbital outposts before returning to Earth. Unlike the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which was designed to jump into the ocean, the Starliner capsule is designed to land under parachutes in the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The Starliner spacecraft carries more than 800 pounds of cargo into space, including a mannequin nicknamed “Rose Rocket” in one of the capsule seats. The fake astronaut is equipped with 15 sensors that will collect data during the flight. according to NASA.
Boeing Starliner Capsule և SpaceX Crew Dragon was developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which was created to help fund the creation of alternative routes to Earth’s low orbit when the space agency launched its space shuttle fleet in 2011. NASA donated $ 4.2 to Boeing. billion in 2014 under the program, and SpaceX received $ 2.6 billion the same year.
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