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Successful test flight: "Starliner" from the International Space Station on Earth

Successful test flight: “Starliner” from the International Space Station on Earth

The test flight was a success
Starliner from the International Space Station on Earth

SpaceX & Co. was supposed to have a long-time competitor. But Boeing’s Starliner is falling behind schedule due to a number of malfunctions. Now, for the first time, a test flight to the International Space Station and back has been successful.

The Starliner spacecraft developed by Boeing on behalf of NASA has completed a successful test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time. After about four days on the International Space Station, the unmanned spacecraft exited the space station as planned and landed a few hours later in the US state of New Mexico, Boeing and NASA announced.

It was an important test for a crisis-ridden “Starliner”. In the future, the spaceship will carry astronauts to the International Space Station as a replacement for SpaceX’s “Crew Dragon” space capsule. However, due to a number of issues, the project is behind schedule. In fact, the Starliner spacecraft was supposed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station long ago, but during the first test in December 2019, the spacecraft did not make it to the International Space Station – in part due to the problem of spontaneous ignition of the drives .

The capsule transported about 230 kilograms of goods such as food, clothes and sleeping bags to the space station. Also on board was a doll named Rosie, which was fitted with sensors and designed to collect data during the flight. On the return flight, the capsule carried about 270 kilograms of cargo, including reusable breathing air tanks. When it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, the space capsule expelled its engine, which was supposed to burn up in the atmosphere. The capsule itself had to withstand temperatures of 1,650 degrees Celsius during re-entry.

The “Starliner” mission is not quite smooth

The task was not entirely without problems. According to NASA, two of the twelve engines controlling the trajectory did not work when the plane took off from Earth. However, the capsule was put on track with the help of a spare engine. On the day of docking, the ship missed the scheduled contact time by more than an hour after a ring responsible for docking to the station failed to propagate properly. In general, representatives of NASA and Boeing were satisfied with the test.

Tests were postponed several times last year – then the Starliner finally had to return to the workshop entirely due to valve problems. NASA described the successful launch from Cape Canaveral Spaceport as a “milestone” last week. The spacecraft carried more than 300 kilograms of cargo, including supplies for the International Space Station crew. Starliner is a semi-reusable spacecraft consisting of a crew capsule and a rocket-launching service unit. Once approved for human transport, it can carry up to four crew members to the International Space Station.

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