TechStarliner succeeds in historic first crewed mission to the International Space Station

Starliner succeeds in historic first crewed mission to the International Space Station

Starliner began the mission.
Starliner began the mission.
Images source: © Getty Images | 2024 Getty Images

5:04 PM EDT, June 5, 2024

The first crewed launch of the Starliner spacecraft took place at 10:52 AM Eastern Time on Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Two American astronauts were on board. The spacecraft will reach the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.

NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore, the mission commander, and Suni Williams are tasked with reaching the space station within 25 hours of launch. They plan to stay there for about a week. The mission's primary goal is to test the Starliner spacecraft and its subsystems, which are essential before NASA begins using the transportation system for rotational missions.

Starliner begins its first mission

NASA reported that about 770 pounds of cargo are on board the Starliner spacecraft. Transported items include food, clothing, exercise, medical, and photographic equipment. Additionally, a USB drive containing approximately 3,500 photos is on board. These photos showcase children's works from 35 U.S. states and 66 countries.

This launch was the third attempt for the Starliner spacecraft. The first attempt on May 6 was canceled due to problems with the rocket valve and a helium leak in the capsule's propulsion system. The second attempt on June 1 also failed due to a ground launch sequencer issue.

The first Starliner launch in 2019 was also unsuccessful. Although no crew was on board, the capsule entered the wrong orbit and failed to reach the ISS, necessitating a repeat flight. Later, a series of additional technical issues were detected.

NASA commissioned two private companies, Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX, to develop and produce vehicles for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS. SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft have been successfully performing orbital flights since 2020.

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