Rescue at Boeing: the “Starliner” capsule en route to the ISS

Status: 05/20/2022 07:46

Boeing’s troubled space program can finally report success: a “Starliner” capsule has begun an unmanned test flight to the ISS. However, there were problems this time too.

Torsten Teichmann, ARD-Studio Washington

The space shuttle first lifted off at 6:54 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Spaceport in the US state of Florida. From then on, the unmanned “Starliner” needed a total of 32 minutes to reach safe Earth orbit. It was powered by an Atlas 5 rocket, which was eventually successfully separated from the capsule in several stages.

Torsten Teichmann

Two defective nozzles

When the “Starliner” was positioned, only ten of the twelve correction nozzles were working, Mark Stich of the US space agency NASA said at a press conference after departure. With the others, it was necessary to know if they were the instruments, if the orders were received. “Right now, we can do all the maneuvers with the remaining correction rolls.”

From Earth orbit to the ISS

The “Starline” is to approach the International Space Station (ISS) from orbit and dock first – a maneuver not expected until Saturday evening. But above all, the successful start was a relief for NASA and the manufacturer Boeing – the mission had so far been characterized by failures.

In December 2019, a software error meant that an attempted flight had to be aborted before docking with the ISS. Another launch last August had to be stopped during the countdown because the valves were not opening. Only the third attempt brought the expected breakthrough.

“There will still be a few sleepless nights”

So now the relief in the team: However, Boeing’s Mark Nappi warns of premature euphoria. Because the mission has four phases. “The first includes launch preparations and launch. And that went very well. Then orbit and docking. And it’s going to be another exciting day. So there will still be a few sleepless nights.”

The goal is to use the “Starliner” to bring both astronauts and cargo to the space station in the future. Although the current mission is unmanned, a test dummy nicknamed “Rosie the Rocketeer” sits in one of the chairs. Food and other goods for the ISS crew are also on board.

The Boeing Starliner en route to the ISS space station

Torsten Teichmann, ARD Washington, May 20, 2022 06:47

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