Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has made its first connection to the International Space Station. The unmanned Starliner passenger spacecraft was successful on its second docking attempt after its first mission in 2019 failed due to a software glitch.
Boeing Starliner passes the test
At 19:28 (CT) on May 20th, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule docked for the first time with the International Space Station (ISS).
The connection was made approximately 26 hours after Starliner launched from Cape Canaveral US Space Force Base in Florida, powered by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Ted Colbert said,
“Today’s successful docking of the Starliner is another important step in this rehearsal for sending astronauts into orbit safely and reliably.”
Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) was completed with no astronauts onboard. The capsule was guided by Starliner’s autonomous systems and ground controllers in Houston, while astronauts on the ISS at times commanded the spacecraft to verify control capabilities.
Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch, added,
“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.”
Success comes at the second (or perhaps third) attempt after December 2019’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) ended in failure due to a software glitch. Boeing also aborted a planned test last summer due to an issue with the spacecraft’s fuel valves.
Boeing has since added that a drop in chamber pressure led to the two thrusters cutting early. The company is also investigating unexpected behavior with Starliner’s thermal-control system at times during the test, but said the capsule’s temperature is now stable.