Boeing finally docks capsule at International Space Station

It’s no longer just on a wing and a prayer.

Boeing docked a space capsule at the International Space Station late Friday night, completing a years-long mission marred by setbacks and cost overruns.

The Boeing Starliner will carry astronauts someday but ferried only a dummy on this trip, which took off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday and took about 25 hours.

NASA celebrated the achievement, as it means two companies have now shown the ability to transport astronauts to the ISS. SpaceX has already completed multiple crewed missions.

“Today marks a great milestone,” NASA astronaut Bob Hines said. “Starliner is looking beautiful on the front of the station.”

The first Boeing Starliner trip in 2019 ended with a mishap as the capsule didn’t even make it to the ISS’ orbit. A second trip was planned for 2021, but several corroded valves were discovered just before takeoff. Fixing that problem cost Boeing over $600 million.
Even this journey wasn’t without problems, as four thrusters failed during the link-up period. However, backup power got the job done after a stressful, hour-long wait.
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“The last few hours have been excruciating, you know, seeing that spacecraft just out of reach of (the) ISS,” NASA higher-up Kathy Lueders told reporters after the docking. “This is a really critical demonstration mission.”

Boeing’s first crewed mission could launch as soon as this year. Starliner is expected to return to Earth and land in New Mexico next week.