Boeing Starliner - Launch, Docking and Hatch Opening at the Space Station

Despite minor technical issues, Boeing successfully docked its spacecraft to ISS.

Starliner CST-100 docked to ISS harmony forward port (Credit: Samantha Cristoforetti)

NASA and Boeing's Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V N22 (AV-082) rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 2254 UTC (6:54 p.m. EDT) on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT Friday, May 20 (0028 UTC on May 21).

Boeing’s Starliner spaceship launches atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas-V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on May 19, 2022. Credit: United Launch Alliance

However, experts noticed an abnormal operation of the cooling system and a slightly early shutdown of the Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) thrusters that shut off early during the orbital insertion (OI) burn, but Boeing assured that the system as a whole was operating normally and was not at risk for the remainder of the mission. also during the docking, several technical problems arose, including with the engine, due to which the spacecraft joined the ISS an hour and a half later than planned. Despite this, in general, the experts evaluated the spacecraft's work well, which made it possible, unlike the first test in 2019, to dock it to the orbital station.



Photo Stream: NASA astronauts Bob Hines and Kjell Lindgren greet “Rosie the Rocketeer” and Zero-G toy; Jeb Kerman (a character in the PC Game "Kerbal Space Program") inside the Boeing Starliner spacecraft shortly after opening its hatch (Credit; NASA).


12 hrs Later, NASA Astronauts living aboard the International Space Station opened the hatch for the first time at 12:04 p.m. EDT (1604 UTC), Astronaut Robert "Bob" Hines enters the Starliner, followed by the Expedition-67 crew members inspecting the spacecraft and cargo packages.

SpaceX CEO; Elon musk Quoted "Congratulations" on the successful docking of Boeing Starliner OFT-2 to ISS

For the flight test, Starliner brings about 226 kg (500 pounds) of NASA cargo and crew supplies and more than136 kg (300 pounds) of Boeing cargo to the International Space Station. Following certification, NASA missions aboard Starliner will carry up to four crew members to the station, enabling the continued expansion of the crew and increasing the amount of science and research that can be performed aboard the orbiting laboratory.



Staying on board Starliner will be Boeing's test dummy, affectionately dubbed Rosie the Rocketeer, after Rosie the Riveter of World War II-era fame. Clad in one of Boeing's blue spacesuits, Rosie will stay strapped into Starliner's command seat for the ride back to Earth.

Sensors on Rosie were used to measure g-forces experienced on the body during Strainer's first test flight. a plush toy of Jebediah "Jeb" Kerman, a Kerbonaut from the famous space exploration game Kerbal Space Program, which Boeing used as a zero-g indicator for some sense of humor, to show when the capsule reached space.



OFT-2 FLIGHT PROFILE

The uncrewed flight test is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 will provide valuable data for NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

After a successful docking, the cargo supplies will be unpacked by astronauts, and Starliner will spend five days "till May 25, 2022" aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in the western United States. the sensors on Rosie (test dummy) will be used to measure those same forces' effects on Starliner's seats during reentry and landing. . The spacecraft will return with nearly 600 pounds (273 kg) of cargo, including reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished on Earth and sent back to the station on a future flight.


OFT-2 will build on the mission objectives achieved during Starliner’s initial flight test, including:

  • In-orbit operation of the avionics, docking system, communications and telemetry systems, environmental control systems, solar arrays, electrical power systems and propulsion systems;

  • Performance of the guidance, navigation & control systems of the Starliner and Atlas V through ascent, on-orbit, and entry;

  • Acoustic and vibration levels, and loads across the Starliner exterior and interior;

  • Launch escape trigger monitoring;

  • Performance of the Starliner system, end-to-end mission operations.

OFT-2 also will test the changes and improvements made to Starliner, and prove the system is ready to fly astronauts. NASA and Boeing engineers, technicians and flight control teams have all been working together to get Starliner back to space safely and efficiently for OFT-2. Following a successful flight test and subsequent data reviews, NASA and Boeing will set a target launch date for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) with astronauts on board.

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