The Boeing CST-100 Starliner docked with the International Space Station for the first time on Friday evening.
The spacecraft made its first connection with the Harmony module of the International Space Station (ISS) at 8:28 p.m. EDT.
Boeing said that in addition to ground controllers in Houston, space station astronauts monitored Starliner throughout the flight and sometimes commanded the spacecraft to check control capabilities.
NASA BOEING ORBITAL FLIGHT TEST-2: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Despite the failure of a few thrusters, the automated rendezvous went off without a major hitch.
The Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida at 6:54 p.m. ET Thursday.
The Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is the second uncrewed test flight of a commercial crewed spacecraft.
The mission was designed to provide Boeing and NASA with enough data to certify the spacecraft for long-duration crewed missions to the ISS.
“Starliner spent its first hours in space performing a series of system demonstrations that allowed mission managers to verify that the spacecraft was healthy and able to maneuver safely. After docking, the Starliner recharged its batteries using solar panels located on the service module,” Boeing said.
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While docked, station crew will float inside the Starliner, perform an initial cabin tour and periodically perform system checks while ground controllers evaluate data gathered during its flight.
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According to NASA, Starliner’s hatch opening is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. EDT Saturday.
Starliner will leave the space station, carrying more than 600 pounds of cargo, on Wednesday, May 25.
This cargo will include reusable oxygen and nitrogen refill system tanks that will provide breathable air for station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished and returned to the ISS on an upcoming flight.
After certification, NASA Starliner missions will carry up to four crew members.
“OFT-2 will provide valuable data to NASA certifying Boeing’s Crew Transport System for scheduled flights with astronauts to and from the space station,” the agency wrote.
“Starliner has proven capability for safe, autonomous rendezvous and docking,” Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch, said in a statement. “We are honored to join the fleet of commercial spacecraft capable of performing space station transportation services for NASA.”
Boeing and SpaceX both won contracts with NASA in 2014 to build spacecraft capable of taking crew to the orbiting lab, but SpaceX has been the only company to take astronauts so far.
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The only other time the Starliner was in space, it ended up in the wrong orbit.
The company’s first test flight in 2019 was aborted by software errors and corroded valves prevented the capsule from taking off last summer.
Brie Stimson of Fox Business and The Associated Press contributed to this report.