May 20, 2022 - Science

Boeing's Starliner docks to ISS for the first time

A full view of the Boeing Starliner capsule shining in white and blue against the blackness of space on approach to the ISS

Boeing's Starliner on approach to the International Space Station. Photo: NASA TV

Boeing's uncrewed Starliner capsule has officially made it to the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The uncrewed test Friday paves the way for human missions aboard Starliner to the ISS in the future, and acts as a re-do of a 2019 mission that failed to make it to the station.

What's happening: The Starliner docked to the space station at 8:28 pm ET on Friday after launching from Florida Thursday.

  • During its time in space, mission controllers tested out a number of its systems, including its thrusters and communications.
  • While the spacecraft had a couple thrusters shut off early just after reaching space, that didn't adversely impact its ability to make it to the station.

Background: During the 2019 test, the Starliner wasn't able to make it to the ISS due to a number of issues.

  • Those malfunctions were so severe that they could have resulted in the loss of the spacecraft.

What's next: The Starliner is expected to stay docked to the space station for the next four to five days before heading back to Earth.

  • Once Boeing begins flying astronauts to the ISS, it will mean that three different systems — Starliner, SpaceX's Dragon and Russia's Soyuz — are able to ferry people to and from the space station.
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