Boeing’s Starliner has successfully reached and docked with the International Space Station taking an important step towards a crucial test flight that would determine if it is ready for manned missions. The unmanned spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and traveled over 25 hours to reach the orbiting laboratory.
Starliner made its first attempt to reach the ISS in December 2019, but was unable to reach its destination due to a software issue that prevented the spacecraft’s thrusters from firing. In August last year, Boeing had to scrap its launch plans because of a problem with the spacecraft’s valves, which prevented the company from planning another launch for almost a year.
While successful, Orbital Flight Test-2 was not without its own problems. When The Washington Post Two of the 12 main engines reportedly failed shortly after liftoff and the temperature control system malfunctioned. The docking process was also delayed by over an hour as the ground crew ensured the lighting was ideal and communications were working as intended. There was also a problem with the spacecraft’s docking mechanism, and it had to retract the system before deploying it a second time.
Boeing said Starliner’s main engines failed due to a drop in pressure in the engine chamber, but it’s not clear what caused it. Company vice president Mark Nappi said Boeing may never know the exact reason because the engines are on the service module, which will be discarded during the return flight. Still, NASA and the company plan to investigate the other issues that have arisen in order to understand them and prevent them from occurring in the future.
Starliner will remain docked with the ISS for the next five days before beginning its return journey, which will land in the New Mexico desert. If the spacecraft successfully returns to Earth, it could be Boeing Send astronauts into orbit already this fall.
This article was previously published on Source link