Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time on Friday evening. The uncrewed mission, Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), launched from Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday. As previously reported by AVweb, OFT-2 was originally expected to launch last year but was delayed due to an oxidizer isolation valve issue on the vehicle’s service module propulsion system. In addition to the valve issue, which was reportedly related to the Florida humidity, Starliner also experienced software problems during its first orbital flight test (OFT-1) in December 2019. As a result, the capsule failed to make its intended orbit, requiring the mission to be re-flown.
“I am so proud of the NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance teams who have worked so hard to see Starliner on its way to the International Space Station,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Through adversity, our teams have continued to innovate for the benefit of our nation and all of humanity. I look forward to a successful end-to-end test of the Starliner spacecraft, which will help enable missions with astronauts aboard.”
According to Boeing, Starliner is carrying more than 800 pounds (362 kilograms) of cargo on OFT-2, around 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of which is for NASA, including food and crew supplies along with a commemorative U.S. flag that will return to Earth on Starliner’s Crew Flight Test (CFT). Following OFT-2, Starliner is scheduled for the CFT mission and six crew rotation missions to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Great. So now Boeing is only five years behind SpaceX?