Starliner Spacecraft Launched Successfully Wednesday Morning

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5 Jun 2024 5:00 PM

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft approaches the International Space Station on May 20, 2022. Credit: NASA

Boeing's Starliner Crewest test flight launched successfully this morning at 10:52 AM EST! Two U.S. Astronauts - Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams are now racing to "catch up" to the ISS where they will dock on Thursday.

Boeing's Starliner Crewed test flight is launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Starliner was originally supposed to launch on Monday, May 6th but was delayed due to a mechanical issue. The most recent attempt to launch on June 1 was aborted 4 minutes to launch due to an issue with computers. According to Boeing, "Starliner teams [were] working to resolve a small helium leak detected in the spacecraft’s service module traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster. Helium is used in spacecraft thruster systems to allow the thrusters to fire and is not combustible or toxic." This mission is the second of the Boeing-NASA contract which included one uncrewed mission in May 2022, this first test crew mission and six more trips to the ISS.

The launch was then rescheduled for May 10th and then May 17th but crews needed additional time to test the spacecraft and ensure it was safe. The Starliner will launch carrying two astronauts - Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams - to the International Space Station, now set for 4:43 PM ET on Tuesday, May 21st. The Atlas IV rocket and Starliner remain on the launchpad awaiting their next opportunity to launch. According to Boeing, "About 15 minutes after launch, Atlas' Centaur upper stage shuts down, sending Starliner on its way to the International Space Station."

So how is the forecasting looking for launch? Skies are clear around Cape Canaveral so the weather won't be a huge interrupter for the launch. For Starliner to launch the weather must have winds below 31 mph, no thunderstorms or lightning in the landing area or waves above 13.1 feet. Right now, none of that is in the forecast.

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