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Boeing launches Starliner spacecraft to ISS in major milestone

Boeing's new Starliner capsule was launched Thursday on a do-over uncrewed test flight bound for the International Space Station, aiming to deliver the company a much-needed success after more than two years of delays and costly engineering setbacks.

Agencies and A News WORLD
Published May 20,2022
U.S. aerospace giant Boeing's Starliner spacecraft set off for the International Space Station (ISS) for a demonstration flight on Thursday, following years of delays.

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner and United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket blasted off at 6:54 pm (2254 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Boeing said.

The unmanned test flight aims to lay the foundation for the Starliner to transport astronauts to the ISS and other low-Earth orbit destinations in the future.

NASA called the launch and orbital insertion "major milestones" which bring the U.S. "closer to having two independent crew systems flying missions to and from the space station."

The spacecraft, which is carrying about 225 kilograms of NASA cargo and crew supplies and more than 130 kilograms of Boeing cargo, is scheduled to dock to the ISS about 2310 GMT Friday.

Starliner is a partially reusable, next-generation spacecraft consisting of a reusable crew capsule and a service module to be launched by rocket. Once certified, it will carry up to four crew members to the station.

The spacecraft was originally due to set off for the space station in July 2021.

The mission was postponed several times, firstly due to problems after the arrival of Russian research module Nauka, and then because of problems with the Starliner's propulsion system valves.

The U.S. aviation and aerospace firm developed and built the Starliner for NASA.

In a first test flight in December 2019, the spacecraft did not make it to the ISS, partly because of a problem with the automatic ignition of the drives.