Boeing’s First Spaceflight Mission!
NASA Boeing Crew Flight Test mission Starliner spacecraft, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, lifts up from the Space Launch Complex-41 in Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, 05 June 2024. EFE/EPA/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

Boeing’s First Spaceflight Mission!


Miami, June 5 (EFE).-

Boeing’s first manned spaceflight mission successfully blasted off Wednesday from Florida, US, with two NASA astronauts aboard for a mission to the International Space Station.

The historic launch was delayed nearly a year by a series of technical problems.

The private company’s Starliner spacecraft finally blasted off at the scheduled time of 10:52 am local time from a platform at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with veteran astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams aboard.

About five minutes later, the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster separated from the capsule which continued on its own to reach the orbit that will take it to the ISS, where it will arrive at 4:15 pm GMT Thursday.

NASA said that the spacecraft will dock with the Harmony module of the ISS.

Although the spacecraft can do this autonomously, this time it will be maneuvered by the astronauts to test the capabilities of the Starliner, which will remain in the orbiting laboratory for a week before beginning the return trip.

“Suni and I are honored to share this dream of spaceflight with each and every one of you,” astronaut Wilmore said moments before liftoff, referring to the various setbacks the mission faced.

The Crew Flight Test mission had to overcome a series of problems in recent weeks related to both the Atlas V rocket and a small helium leak in the spacecraft that NASA engineers said posed no danger.

NASA and Boeing had planned to launch the capsule with its two crew members on May 6, but, two hours before the liftoff, the operation had to be scrubbed after an anomaly was found in an Atlas V liquid oxygen tank. The mission’s launch date had to be then changed several times until Wednesday’s blast off.

The Starliner program was initially scheduled for 2017 but suffered a series of delays that have cost the US space agency about 4.2 billion dollars.

The program successfully completed an uncrewed trip to the ISS in May 2022. The first crewed mission was originally scheduled to launch in July 2023, but was postponed indefinitely a month earlier when officials announced a repair to the spacecraft’s parachute system.

As for the delays the Starliner has experienced, astronaut José Hernández said they are “normal” because NASA takes safety very seriously.

Wednesday’s mission will allow Boeing to obtain the necessary certifications to operate as a second cargo provider and crew transport to the ISS along with SpaceX, as both private firms have signed multi-million dollar contracts with NASA.

If the mission is successful, NASA will complete the certification process by the end of 2024, and then Boeing plans to make its first operational trip to the ISS in February 2025.

On the other hand, SpaceX has conducted 13 manned space flights with its Dragon capsule since May 2020, including four for commercial clients, and 12 of which have been to the ISS.

The American spacecraft manufacturer has transported 50 people, including astronauts, cosmonauts, and private citizens. EFE


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