NATIONAL NEWS

Boeing docks crew capsule to space station in test do-over

May 21, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:55 pm
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off on May 19, 2022, from Space Launch Complex-41 at ...
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off on May 19, 2022, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for NASA Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. (NASA)
(NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — With only a test dummy aboard, Boeing’s astronaut capsule pulled up and parked at the International Space Station for the first time Friday, a huge achievement for the company after years of false starts.

With Starliner’s arrival, NASA finally realizes its longtime effort to have crew capsules from competing U.S. companies flying to the space station.

SpaceX already has a running start. Elon Musk’s company pulled off the same test three years ago and has since launched 18 astronauts to the space station, as well as tourists.

“Today marks a great milestone,” NASA astronaut Bob Hines radioed from the orbiting complex. “Starliner is looking beautiful on the front of the station,” he added.

The only other time Boeing’s Starliner flew in space, it never got anywhere near the station, ending up in the wrong orbit.

This time, the overhauled spacecraft made it to the right spot following Thursday’s launch and docked at the station 25 hours later. The automated rendezvous went off without a major hitch, despite the failure of a handful of thrusters.

If the rest of Starliner’s mission goes well, Boeing could be ready to launch its first crew by the end of this year. The astronauts likely to serve on the first Starliner crew joined Boeing and NASA flight controllers in Houston as the action unfolded nearly 270 miles (435 kilometers) up.

NASA wants redundancy when it comes to the Florida-based astronaut taxi service. Administrator Bill Nelson said Boeing’s long road with Starliner underscores the importance of having two types of crew capsules. U.S. astronauts were stuck riding Russian rockets once the shuttle program ended, until SpaceX’s first crew flight in 2020.

Boeing’s first Starliner test flight in 2019 was plagued by software errors that cut the mission short and could have doomed the spacecraft. Those were corrected, but when the new capsule awaited liftoff last summer, corroded valves halted the countdown. More repairs followed, as Boeing chalked up nearly $600 million in do-over costs.

Before letting Starliner get close to the space station Friday, Boeing ground controllers practiced maneuvering the capsule and tested its robotic vision system. Everything checked out well, Boeing said, except for a cooling loop and four failed thrusters. The capsule held a steady temperature, however, and had plenty of other thrusters for steering.

Once Starliner was within 10 miles (15 kilometers) of the space station, Boeing flight controllers in Houston could see the space station through the capsule’s cameras. “We’re waving. Can you see us?” joked Hines.

There was only silence from Starliner. The commander’s seat was occupied once again by the mannequin dubbed Rosie the Rocketeer, a space-age version of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter.

The gleaming white-with-blue-trim capsule hovered 33 feet (10 meters) from the station for close to two hours — considerably longer than planned — as flight controllers adjusted its docking ring and ensured everything else was in order. When the green light finally came, Starliner closed the gap in four minutes, eliciting cheers in Boeing’s control center. Applause erupted once the latches were tightly secured.

“These last 48 hours have just been a barnstorm, so it’s going to be very good to sleep tonight,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and director of Boeing’s commercial crew program.

It was a double celebration for NASA’s commercial crew program director Steve Stich, who turned 57 Friday. “What an incredible birthday it was,” he told reporters.

The space station’s seven astronauts will unload groceries and gear from Starliner and pack it up with experiments. Unlike SpaceX’s Dragon capsule that splashes down off the Florida coast, Starliner will aim for a landing in New Mexico next Wednesday.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention facility in New York where he is...
Sonia Moghe and Alaa Elassar, CNN

R. Kelly placed on suicide watch after being sentenced to 30 years in prison, his lawyer says

R. Kelly has been placed on suicide watch at the federal detention facility in New York where he is being held after he was sentenced this week to 30 years in prison on racketeering and sex trafficking charges, his lawyer said Friday.
1 day ago
A sunken World War II-Era Higgins landing craft that used to be nearly 200 feet underwater is being...
Associated Press

World War II-era boat emerges from shrinking Lake Mead

A sunken boat dating back to World War II is the latest object to emerge from a shrinking reservoir that straddles Nevada and Arizona.
1 day ago
The Florida Highway Patrol makes an arrest on June 29. The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two peop...
Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Florida Highway Patrol arrests two men in two days in separate human smuggling cases

The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two people this week for smuggling others into the state, according to incident reports from the agency.
1 day ago
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventio...
Jen Christensen, CNN

‘You do not want this’ virus: California man with monkeypox urges others to get vaccinated

Matt Ford edits videos for a living, so it wasn't a stretch for him to put one together for TikTok. But his latest post wasn't a crazy dance or a video about how to peel a banana the right way. It's based on his own experience with monkeypox.
1 day ago
FILE: Walt Disney World Resort marked its 45th anniversary on October 1, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, ...
Eliza Pace

Disney announces ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ ride to replace Splash Mountain

A new ride based on Disney's "Princess and the Frog,"  will replace the current Splash Mountain ride, Disney announced Friday.
1 day ago
(Stock image)...
Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Pets and fireworks: How to keep your animals calm and safe on July 4

We may find fireworks beautiful and festive, but they explode like magnified gunfire in the exquisitely sensitive ears of many of our pets.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Boeing docks crew capsule to space station in test do-over