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Boeing’s Starliner Docks With Space Station for NASA

As soon as troubleshooting of the issue was accomplished, a last nudge by the thrusters pushed it into contact with the docking port.

Following a profitable return from orbit and touchdown, Boeing will nonetheless have extra work together with investigating and fixing the glitches encountered throughout this flight, It additionally wants to finish certification of the spacecraft’s parachutes, earlier than NASA approves Starliner for carrying astronauts. An unbiased security board overseeing NASA expressed concern final week that Boeing didn’t have sufficient folks engaged on this system.

“The panel can be monitoring the scenario within the close to future to see what affect, if any, this might have on the existence or mitigation of any security dangers,” stated David B. West, a member of the security board.

After a crewed demonstration mission taking two of three NASA astronauts to the area station, Starliner would start common operations, taking crews of 4 to orbit. NASA anticipates that SpaceX and Boeing will every fly one crew mission a yr.

Nonetheless, Boeing won’t, within the quick time period, be capable to faucet into any non-NASA enterprise as SpaceX has, launching two missions of personal residents to orbit up to now yr. For one, Boeing’s car is significantly costlier. In 2019, the NASA inspector common estimated that NASA is paying $90 million for every Starliner seat whereas a seat on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon prices $55 million.

As well as, Boeing doesn’t have entry to the rockets wanted to fly Starliner missions past what NASA requires. Presently, the spacecraft launches on high of an Atlas 5 rocket constructed by United Launch Alliance. However the Atlas 5 is propelled by Russian-built RD-180 engines. In 2016, Congress determined to require that RD-180s be phased out. Boeing has sufficient Atlas 5 rockets to satisfy its obligations to NASA — the crewed check flight and 6 operational flights — however no extra.

Starliner can fly on different rockets, together with Vulcan, the successor to the Atlas 5. However the Vulcan, which has but to make its first flight, has not been permitted for crewed missions.

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