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Boeing launched the Starliner with NASA astronauts into space on the third attempt and after months of delays. Photo

Anna BoklajukNews
Boeing launches Starliner into space with NASA astronauts

The Boeing Starliner space capsule has lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on the third attempt and after long delays. The crew consists of two NASA astronauts.

The capsule reached orbit in about twelve minutes. For the next 25 hours, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will stay there until the Starliner autonomously docks to the front port of the station's Harmony module at noon on June 6, and will remain in the orbiting laboratory for about a week, NPR writes.

Boeing launched the Starliner with NASA astronauts into space on the third attempt and after months of delays. Photo

This mission marks the first time a commercially built capsule has carried humans and is scheduled to dock with a station. This was the third attempt to launch the Starliner. On Saturday, the countdown was stopped with less than four minutes left. It was caused by a problem with the onboard computers that control the launch. ULA's launch supplier replaced the power supply in the system and cleared it for launch on Wednesday. The previous launch attempt was last month – it was canceled due to a malfunctioning valve on the upper stage of the Atlas V Centaur rocket.

Boeing launched the Starliner with NASA astronauts into space on the third attempt and after months of delays. Photo

While fixing this problem, Boeing discovered another one: a helium leak. The gas is used in the Starliner's propulsion system. After reviewing the data, NASA was confident that Boeing would be able to successfully complete the mission.

Boeing launched the Starliner with NASA astronauts into space on the third attempt and after months of delays. Photo

However, during the flight, the helium leak occurred again. The astronauts manually closed the valves, and now experts are trying to find the source of the leak. Without helium, the spacecraft will not be able to perform rendezvous and docking maneuvers, as well as to deorbits - it is used to supercharge the propulsion system tanks, the alphacentaurichannel telegram channel writes.

But we hope that this third attempt will really succeed. Now that Wilmore and Williams have launched the Starliner, it is going on its maiden flight, testing it on the eve of operational missions for NASA.

Boeing launched the Starliner with NASA astronauts into space on the third attempt and after months of delays. Photo

"Two brave NASA astronauts are on their way to this historic first test flight of a brand new spacecraft. The Boeing Starliner marks a new chapter in American exploration. Human spaceflight is a daunting task, but that's exactly why it's worth it. This is an exciting time for NASA, our commercial partners, and the future of exploration," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Willmore and Williams will test key Starliner systems as it docks with the space station, including life support and communications. While the spacecraft can essentially fly itself, the duo will test manual control of the vehicle as it approaches the orbital outpost.

The crew will spend about a week aboard the station, with a planned parachute canopy landing in the southwestern United States. NASA and Boeing teams will analyze the data from this flight before certifying the vehicle for operations.

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