Starliner could be the next “space taxi” for astronauts on their way to the International Space Station .
Boeing and NASA have watched with excitement as the Starliner space capsulecompleted its first full flight (and return) to the International Space Station ( ISS ) on the OFT-2 (Orbital Flight Test-2) mission.
This Wednesday, in the afternoon, Starliner undocked from the ISS and headed for Earth, landing in the New Mexico desert at around 7:00 p.m. Peru, ending a five-day mission that kept everyone awake. their managers.
TOUCHDOWN! Starliner OFT-2 completes a full test flight to the ISS and back with a landing at White Stands.
— Chris Bergin – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 25, 2022
Boeing can finally dream
Starliner has achieved success after its orbit deviated in 2019 and it was unable to dock with the spacecraft.
Now, after a series of delays of up to a year, the capsule has completed OFT-2 and is getting ready to be certified by NASA.
The US space agency maintains Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as its two “space taxis” to take its astronauts to the ISS. However, while Crew missions have been released 4 times, Starliner missions have not been released at all.
That is why the success of OFT-2 is vital for Boeing, which, if the necessary procedures and accreditation are completed, could send its first manned mission this year.
The capsule did not come empty
Starliner carried a “passenger” on this test flight: a realistic test device called the Rosie.
During OFT-1, Rosie was outfitted with 15 sensors to collect data on what astronauts will experience during Starliner flights. For OFT-2, the spacecraft’s data capture ports previously connected to Rosie’s 15 sensors were used to collect data from sensors placed throughout the seat platform, which is the infrastructure that maintains all of the seats. of the crew instead.
Among the returned cargo were three reusable oxygen and nitrogen recharge system tanks that provide breathable air for station crew members. The tanks will be refitted on Earth and shipped back to the station on a future flight.
Boeing recovered the spacecraft from the desert and will transport it back to the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for processing.