For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – NASA Astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) opened the hatch for the first time ever to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft Saturday, May 21, becoming the first humans to enter the ship on orbit just hours after docking at the orbiting outpost Friday evening, May 20 – marking another major positive milestone for the long delayed and high stakes spacecraft on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) for NASA that could eventually lead to the first crewed flight as soon as years end.
The station crew will spend the next few days unloading some 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of NASA cargo and crew supplies from Starliner and perform systems tests inside the spacecraft ahead of its return to Earth next week during 4 to 5 days of docked operations
NASA astronaut Bob Hines was the lead astronaut for the hatch opening operation and became the first person to enter a Starliner spacecraft in orbit after opening the capsule’s forward hatch at 12:04 p.m. EDT (1604 GMT) Saturday.
Hines was soon joined inside Starliner by two of his Expedition 67 crewmates, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Russian cosmonaut Denis Matveev
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 21, 2022
Once inside Starliner the station crewmates greeted “Rosie the Rocketeer,” Boeings anthropometric test device occupying one of the astronauts seats – to simulate an astronaut.
Because the docking occurred late in the ISS crew’s workday Friday, the hatch opening did not take place until Saturday morning.
“This is a momentous day in NASA’s history and just paving the way to the future as we start enabling commercial flights here in low Earth orbit, while NASA pivots to the moon and eventually on to Mars,” said NASA Astronaut Bob Hines.
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 21, 2022
‘Rosie’ was wired with sensors to gain as much information as possible to provide invaluable information on what she ‘sensed’ and assist future astronauts to what the ride could feel like.
In another historic feat, todays milestone event marked the first time in history that three different human rated spaceships were simultaneously docked at the ISS:
Welcome aboard to our newest visitor, Rosie the Rocketeer, who arrived Friday on @Boeing's #Starliner! Pretty amazing to now have three different human-rated spacecraft docked to the @Space_Station. Congratulations to the entire team!
— Jessica Watkins (@astro_watkins) May 23, 2022
Also aboard was the Zero-G indicator – Jebediah Kerman
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 21, 2022
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft successfully docked to the forward port of the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT, May 20, while soaring some 250 miles (400 km) over the Pacific Ocean.
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 21, 2022
This time lapse shows the Starliner docking to ISS on May 20:
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) May 22, 2022
The long awaited Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is a demonstration test flight required to prove that the Boeing capsule can safely and successfully ferry NASA and partners astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the space station – following the failure of the original OFT-1 mission to dock at the ISS back in 2019 followed by a technical scrub of the OFT-2 mission last year that required some nine months of further repairs to the maneuvering thrusters.
The goal of next-generation Starliner spacecraft on the OFT-2 mission is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
Here are more stunning arrival photos of Starliner’s arrival and docking taken by the station crew:
It's been a busy and amazing 3 weeks. So excited to be back in orbit with Exp67 and to welcome Boeing #Starliner to the International @Space_Station! Photos courtesy of @AstroSamantha and @SergKorsakov. pic.twitter.com/mTg9NONMmj
— Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) May 23, 2022
NASA says now that Starliner is scheduled to depart the space station Wednesday, May 25, when it will undock and return to Earth, with a desert landing in the western U.S. at White Sands Space Harbor as the primary landing site – same as the OFT-1 mission in 2019.
Starliner will return with more than 600 pounds of cargo, including three Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System reusable tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished on Earth and sent back to station on a future flight.
Liftoff of the 17-story tall ULA Atlas V carrying the Boeing CST-100 Starliner on the critical OFT-2 mission for NASA took place as scheduled at dinnertime Thursday, May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT) from seaside Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida during an instantaneous launch window.
Enjoy our Atlas V/Starliner launch, prelaunch and rocket rollout photos taken by the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright for Space UpClose.
After Starliner successfully completes its mission and is certified the U.S. will achieve the long desired goal of the Commercial Crew Program of having two independent and dissimilar redundant spacecraft systems to ferry our astronauts to the ISS and back.
SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown 5 missions for NASA to the ISS over the past two years
If all goes well with OFT-2 Boeing could launch NASA astronauts on the next mission dubbed CFT or Crew Flight Test by years end.
Either two or three experienced NASA astronauts would fly aboard CFT and have been in training for years.
NASA will name the flight crew this summer following a review of all the date from OFT-2.
Watch Ken’s commentary about Starliner, NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA Crew-3, Crew 4 and SpaceX AX-1 missions and Starlink.
May 19/20: WFTV ABC Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my prelaunch and post launch commentary about the critical nature of the Boeing Starliner OFT-2 mission for NASA
May 11: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary & analysis about Boeing Starliner crew capsule targeting launch May 19 for long delayed OFT2 uncrewed test flight for NASA after completing FRR this afternoon. It must dock at ISS to be considered successful to enable follow-on NASA astronaut flights maybe by late 2022
Apr 29: WKMG CBS 6 with my commentary about the record setting Falcon 9 turnaround of 21 days since the Axiom-1 launch
Apr 22: Fox 35 Orlando features my analysis of the busy week ahead in space with weather delayed Earth return of AX-1 crew this weekend, launch of 4 NASA/ESA Crew-4 astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon NET Apr 26 & rollback of NASA SLS to VAB for repairs
Apr 20: WFTV ABC News Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX static fire and impact of weather induced delays to departure of Ax-1 and launch of Crew-4.
Apr 15/16 & Apr 12/13: WFTV ABC News Orlando and WKMG CBS 6 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS:
Apr 6: WFTV ABC 9 Orlando featured my comments about 1st fully private astronaut launch to ISS by SpaceX on AX-1 mission:https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/first-all-private-astronaut-mission-iss-set-liftoff-kennedy-space-center-this-week/FYE5QAT735BA7G42O6IVCJGB4Q/
Apr 4 & 5: WFTV ABC News Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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