The Boeing Starliner is well on its strategy to completing a long-awaited rendezvous with the International Space Station after a successful launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Lifting off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, the uncrewed Starliner spacecraft quickly reached and surpassed the purpose in its flight where a software glitch forced Boeing to cancel an ISS rendezvous in 2019.
However the Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) launch on Thursday was not a flawless victory, for the reason that spacecraft did experience a failure of a few of its thrusters shortly after lift off.
Boeing Starliner OFT-2 lifts off
The Starliner is Boeing’s contribution to Nasa’s Business Crew Program, which was set as much as contract with private launch firms to ferry Nasa astronauts to and from the space station. Each Boeing and SpaceX received Nasa contracts in 2019, but while SpaceX was capable of begin carrying astronauts for Nasa in 2020, the Starliner’s failed orbital flight test kept Boeing on the sidelines.
Boeing made a second attempt at OFT-2 in August 2021, but it surely never got off the bottom — problems with valves within the Starliner’s propulsion system during pre-launch tests forced Boeing to clean the launch after which took months to repair.
But OFT-2 lifted off shortly before 7pm EDT Thursday evening, successfully reaching orbit, but not without some hiccups.
In line with reporting by Reuters, Boeing announced at a post-launch press conference that two thrusters — out of 12 — failed to fireside as expected, but that backup thrusters routinely kicked in and kept the spacecraft heading in the right direction.
“The system is designed to be redundant, and it performed prefer it was speculated to,” Mark Nappi, Boeing’s Starliner program manager said, in keeping with Reuters. “We now have a protected vehicle, and we’re on our strategy to the International Space Station.”
The Starliner is predicted to succeed in and dock with the ISS sometime Friday evening, where astronauts will unload 500 kilos of cargo onto the space station. If the remainder of the mission goes as planned, a primary crewed test flight of the Starliner could happen as early as sometime this fall.
Nasa is desperate to see the Starliner pass its tests and start regular service, with Nasa officials repeatedly stating the space agency is enthusiastic about redundancy and competition between its contractors.