Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is officially on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after a 2.5-year delay.
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Thursday (May 19) at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT), Hold the starliner high on an unmanned mission called Orbital Flight Test 2OFT-2).
If all goes according to plan, starliner It will attach to the International Space Station on Friday evening (May 20) and spend four to five days attached to the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth for a parachute-assisted landing in the western United States. The spacecraft is ready to transport NASA astronauts to and from the station.
Starliner has entered itself into the appropriate orbit after its separation from Atlas V On Thursday, a huge milestone for Boeing and NASA. After all, the capsule was unable to rendezvous with the ISS during the original OFT in December 2019 after suffering some Software glitches Soon after launch. and failed to get off when OFT-2 first took to the podium last summer; Pre-verifications detected defective valves in the Starliner propulsion system, a problem that took about eight months to address.
The OFT-2 launch was a huge milestone for ULA as well, marking the rocket company’s 150th launch, a joint effort between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
At a press conference held after the launch Thursday evening, NASA and Boeing experts were quick to congratulate their various teams on the hard work that led to the successful launch.
“Today was just a huge day for the commercial crew,” said Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager. While listing the obstacles and milestones kicking off the day’s events, he also mentioned a small Starliner malfunction.
During the spacecraft’s orbital entry burn, which occurred 31 minutes after liftoff, two Starliner thrusters did not fire as expected. The first failed after just one second. Backup turned on immediately and managed to fire for another 25 seconds before failing as well. The failure protection systems activated the high redundancy of the thruster assembly, and the Starliner was able to complete the critical burn without incident.
The Boeing spacecraft is equipped with four of these thrusters in its aft section, referred to in industry designations as “dog kennels,” each containing three thrusters for Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) used to perform maneuvering burns as large as those up to orbit. Insert. Boeing representatives said the two OMAC thrusters that failed, and the third that stepped in to compensate, were in the same house in the Starliner’s aft section.
said Mark Naby, vice president and program manager for the Boeing Commercial Crew Program.
Naby emphasized that the problem did not need to be resolved before the OFT-2 mission was completed. During the briefing, Stich noted that Starliner has performed a significant second burn with the same OMAC engines, which is well on its way to rendezvous with International Space Station.
“This second burn we had…we used a third impulse on that dog, and it did really well for that whole burn. So, it doesn’t seem like it had anything in common with all three. And as [Nappi] He said, they started shooting properly. The first fired, the second fired, and fired for 25 seconds,” Stitch said.
“So, we’ll just have to do some more troubleshooting and see if we can figure out why these two thrusters didn’t complete the orbit burn process,” he added.
Starliner will catch up with the space station on Friday evening (May 20). Once about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the orbiting laboratory, the spacecraft will display stop-and-go maneuvers before moving to docking at approximately 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT).
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