Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule hasn’t had the greatest time of it. Its initial orbital test didn’t end particularly well, and its second was called off at the last second. Boeing’s third try at sending its capsule on an unmanned run to the International Space Station (ISS), though… That’s turned out okay.
Starliner launched last night on top of an Atlas V, one of the United Launch Alliance’s rockets. The launch was supposed to demonstrate the viability of yet another crew capsule, to compete with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
Starliner’s starring role
The first time Boeing’s craft launched into space, a series of software issues botched the whole thing. The follow-up test, known as Orbital Flight Test-2, was cancelled when valves for the craft’s propulsion system froze before takeoff.
This time around, Starliner made it into space without any issues. There is still one milestone to go, though, and it’s an important one. The craft is supposed to dock with the International Space Station tonight. Officially, that’ll take place at 19h10 EDT. In South African terms, if you want to watch it live, you’ll need to stay up until 01h10 on Saturday morning.
If all goes well, then Starliner will begin setting up for manned flights. Once that’s all sorted out, NASA will have a second crew capsule system to take advantage of. Then, this whole thing is going to the Moon.
Source: Ars Technica