Boeing’s Starliner safely docks with space station

Published June 7, 2024
This screengrab from Nasa shows astronaut Suni Williams (seated L) and Butch Wilmore (seated R) posing with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) after the docking of the Boeing Starliner capsule on June 6.
This screengrab from Nasa shows astronaut Suni Williams (seated L) and Butch Wilmore (seated R) posing with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) after the docking of the Boeing Starliner capsule on June 6.

WASHINGTON: Boe­ing’s new Starliner capsule and an inaugural two-member Nasa crew safely docked with the Internatio­nal Space Station on Thursday, meeting a key test in proving the vessel’s flight-worthiness and sharpening Boeing’s competition with Elon Musk’s.

The rendezvous was achieved despite an earlier loss of several guidance-control jet thrusters, some of them due to a helium propulsion leak, which Nasa and Boeing said should not compromise the mission.

The CST-100 Starliner, with veteran astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Will­ia­ms aboard, arrived at the orbiting platform after a flight of nearly 27 hours following its launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The reusable, gumdrop-shaped capsule, dubbed `Calypso’ by its crew, was lofted into space on Wednesday atop an Atlas V rocket furnished and flown by Boeing-Lockheed Martin’s United Launch Alliance joint venture.

It autonomously docked with the ISS while both were orbiting some 400 km over the southern Indian Ocean at 1734 GMT, as the two vehicles soared around the globe in tandem at about 28,160 km per hour.

The spacecraft’s final approach to the ISS and docking, following a brief interval when Wilmore manually controlled the capsule, was shown on a Nasa webcast.

“Nice to be attached to the big city in the sky,” Wilmore radioed to mission control in Houston shortly after docking.

Once securely coupled to the space laboratory with a series of 12 hooks, Wilmore and Williams must conduct a series of standard procedures, such as checking for airlock leaks and pressurising the passage between the capsule and the ISS, before opening the entry hatches.

That process was expected to take about two hours.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2024

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