Finally, we have another spacecraft that appears capable of bringing astronauts into orbit. After two earlier tries, Boeing’s Starliner was successfully launched on Thursday and then connected with the International Spaced Stations (ISS) today. Now we just need it to undock on Wednesday and safely return.
In a press release, Jim Chilton, Boeing’s senior vice president for Space and Launch, stated:
Starliner has proven safe, autonomous rendezvous and docking capability…We’re honored to join the fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of conducting transportation services to the space station for NASA.
We needed this redundancy in our ISS program and now we have it.
You can read more about the mission here.
Update: The Starliner spacecraft safely returned to Earth on Wednesday, May 22nd. Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA’s International Space Station Program, stated:
Congratulations to the NASA and Boeing teams…I am excited to see the completion of a critical step in bringing another system online to transport long-duration crew members to and from the International Space Station. Soon, we hope to see crews arrive to the space station on Starliner to continue the important microgravity scientific research and discovery made possible by the orbiting laboratory.