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NASA Sends First Manned Starliner Spacecraft to Space Station

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NASA Sends First Manned Starliner Spacecraft to Space Station
Astronauts on Starliner: NASA Image

NASA has announced astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are safely in orbit on the first crewed flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft heading for the International Space Station.

As part of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test, the astronauts launched a ULA (United Launch Alliance) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 10:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday for an end-to-end test of the Starliner system.

“Two brave NASA astronauts are well on their way to this historic first test flight of a brand-new spacecraft,” stated NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Boeing’s Starliner represents a new era of American exploration. Human spaceflight is a risky endeavor, but it is worth it. It is an exciting time for NASA, our commercial partners, and the future of space exploration. “Go Starliner, Butch, and Suni!”

The flight test is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will help validate the transportation system, launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, in-orbit operations capabilities, and return to Earth with astronauts aboard as the agency prepares to certify Starliner for rotational missions to the space station. Starliner has already completed two uncrewed orbital missions, including a test to and from the space station, as well as a pad abort demonstration.

Starliner Make Orbit: NASA Image

Boeing Starliner Makes Orbit

“With Starliner’s launch, separation from the rocket, and arrival in orbit, Boeing’s Crew Flight Test is right on track,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Everyone is focused on giving Suni and Butch a safe, comfortable, ride and performing a successful test mission from start to finish.”

Boeing’s mission control center in Houston will supervise a sequence of autonomous spacecraft maneuvers while Starliner is in flight. NASA teams will supervise space station activities from the Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“Flying crew on Starliner represents over a decade of work by the Commercial Crew Program and our partners at Boeing and ULA,” said Steve Stich, Commercial Crew Program Manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “For many of us, this is a career-defining occasion, ushering in a new crew transportation capacity for our agency and our country. We will take it one step at a time, putting Starliner through its paces and remaining watchful until Butch and Suni safely land back on Earth at the end of this test journey.”

At about 12:15 p.m., Starliner will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module. Thursday, June 6, and will remain at the orbital laboratory for almost a week.

Wilmore and Williams will help ensure that the spacecraft is functioning properly by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system, and moving the thrusters, among other things, during flight.

Wilmore and Williams will join the Expedition 71 crew, which includes NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matt Dominick, Tracy C. Dyson, and Jeanette Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Chub, Alexander Grebenkin, and Oleg Kononenko.

NASA’s arrival and in-flight event coverage is as follows (all times Eastern and subject to change depending on real-time operations):

NASA Television channels will continue to broadcast the Starliner’s mission.

Thursday, June 6
9:30 a.m. – Arrival coverage begins on NASA+, the NASA app, and YouTube, and continues on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

12:15 p.m. – Targeted docking

2 p.m. – Hatch opening

2:20 p.m. – Welcome remarks

3:30 p.m. – Post-docking news conference at NASA Johnson with the following participants:

  • NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Jeff Arend, manager for systems engineering and integration, NASA’s International Space Station Office
  • Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Commercial Crew Program, Boeing

Coverage of the post-docking news conference will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

To attend the post-docking briefing, U.S. media must contact the NASA Johnson newsroom at: jsccommu@mail.nasa.gov or 281-483-5111 by 1 p.m. Thursday, June 6. To join by phone, media must contact the NASA Johnson newsroom by 3 p.m. Thursday, June 6.

5:50 p.m. – NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, Associate Administrator Jim Free, Associate Administrator for Space Operations Ken Bowersox, and Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche will speak with Wilmore and Williams about their launch aboard the Starliner spacecraft.

Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

Saturday, June 8

8:50 a.m. – NASA astronauts Wilmore and Williams will provide a tour of Starliner.

Coverage of the in-orbit event will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

Monday, June 10

11 a.m. – Williams will speak to students from Sunita L. Williams Elementary School in Needham, Massachusetts, in an event aboard the space station.

Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

Tuesday, June 11

3:15 p.m. – Wilmore will speak to students from Tennessee Tech University in an event aboard the space station.

Coverage of the Earth to space call will air live on NASA+, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website.

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