Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has officially headed to the International Space Station (ISS) after a 2.5-year delay.
The Atlas V United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket was launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida on Thursday (May 19) at 18:54 on EDT (22:54 GMT). carrying Starliner in height on a mission without a crew called Orbital Flight Test 2 (AFT-2).
If all goes according to plan, Starliner will dock with the ISS on Friday night (May 20) and will spend four to five days in the orbital lab before returning to Earth for a parachute landing in the western United States. these fronts are likely to show that the Boeing spacecraft is ready to transport NASA astronauts to and from the station.
Starliner went into proper orbit after separating from Atlas B on Thursday, a huge milestone for Boeing and NASA. Eventually, the capsule failed to meet the ISS during the initial OFT in December 2019 after some suffering software crashes shortly after launch. And he couldn’t get off the ground when OFT-2 first hit the site last summer; detected pre-run check faulty valves in the Starliner power system, a problem that took about eight months to solve.
The take-off of OFT-2 was a major milestone for the ULA, marking the 150th launch of the missile campaign, a joint effort of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
At a press conference after the launch on Thursday night, NASA and Boeing experts had time to congratulate the various teams for the hard work that led to the successful launch.
“Today has been a great day for the commercial team,” said Steve Steach, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager. Enumerating the obstacles and milestones of the day’s events, he also mentioned one small Starliner malfunction.
During the spacecraft’s orbital burn, which occurred 31 minutes after takeoff, two Starliner engines did not work as expected. The first failed in just one second. His backup immediately worked and was able to work for another 25 seconds before it also failed. The backup systems activated a tertiary backup for the engine group, and Starliner was able to complete the crucial burn without incident.
The Boeing spacecraft is equipped with four of these groups of stern thrusters, which in the industry are called “doghouses”, each of which contains three engines for orbital maneuvering and position control (OMAC), which are used to perform significant maneuvers similar to those reaching orbital motion. insert. Two OMAC engines that failed and a third that intervened to compensate were in the same booth at the stern of the Starliner, Boeing officials said.
“The system was created as redundant, and it worked as it should. Now the team is working to understand why we have these anomalies, ”said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s commercial crew program.
Nappi stressed that this is not an issue that needs to be addressed before the completion of the OFT-2 mission. During the briefing, Stitch noted that Starliner made a second significant burn with the same OMAC engines, sending him to a meeting with International Space Station.
“The second burn we did … used a third threshing device in this kennel, and he did well with all the burns. So it doesn’t look like something in common for all three. And like Mark [Nappi] said they started firing properly. The first one fired, and the second one picked up, fired for 25 seconds, ”Shtych said.
“So we just need to fix a little more and see if we can find out why these two engines didn’t complete this burn into orbit,” he added.
Starliner will catch up with the space station on Friday night (May 20). Once approximately 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the orbital laboratory, the spacecraft will demonstrate stop and retreat maneuvers before moving to a dock around 19:10 EDT (23:10 GMT).
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