Boeing Space launched its spacecraft starliner from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday, May 19 using a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
The launch, which took place as planned at 6:54 p.m. ET (3:54 p.m. PT), is the second attempt to fly the spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) after a failed mission in December 2019. when the Starliner failed to reach the intended orbit.
See views from the Space Launch Complex-41 launch pad and spacecraft separation during today’s #Starliner #OFT2 liftoff atop a @ulalaunch #AtlasV. Stay tuned for docking with @Space_Station on May 20. pic.twitter.com/Ztjs36IwQf
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 20, 2022
Sixteen minutes after leaving the launch pad, Mission Control confirmed that the uncrewed Starliner had successfully separated from the ULA booster and was flying in space on its own.
A short time later, confirmation arrived that the Starliner had executed its injection combustion to achieve the desired orbit.
Thank you for the incredible boost to orbit, @ulalaunch!
Go Atlas! Go Centaur! Go Starliner! https://t.co/cfTfxdSYBs
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 19, 2022
The plan is for the Starliner spacecraft to dock with the space station on Friday, where it will deliver supplies and equipment to astronauts aboard the orbiting outpost. The spacecraft will remain on the ISS for five to 10 days before returning to Earth in a parachute-assisted landing at the White Sands spaceport in New Mexico.
“The flight test, which includes orbital maneuvers, rendezvous with the International Space Station, docking, undocking and landing operations, will validate all critical systems and capabilities ahead of Boeing’s first flight carrying astronauts to and from the ISS,” he said. Boeing earlier this week.
If the mission is deemed a success, the manned test flight will send the Starliner on the same route to and from the ISS. The hope is that that mission will take place within the next 12 months.
A successful manned mission will pave the way for NASA to use the spacecraft for future astronaut flights to and from the space station. This would give NASA another transportation option alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which has been carrying out regular astronaut flights since 2020.