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Starliner's first manned flight in May

Starliner's first manned flight in May

NASA gave the green light for the capsule's first crewed flight on Thursday Starliner From Boeing, May 6. It will be supervised by Canadian astronaut Joshua Kotric from Houston. Boeing's problems with its planes raise a lot of doubts about the Starliner.


Starliner “It has nothing to do with Boeing’s current problems,” astronaut Butch Wilmore answered during a press conference Thursday afternoon upon his arrival aboard a T-38 plane at Kennedy Space Center. NASA's second-in-command, Jim Frye, and flight director Emily Nelson had the same answer to the same question during a late-afternoon conference call.

Mr. Wilmore will fly with Sonny Williams. They are both pilots in the US Navy.

If its manned flight to the International Space Station (ISS) is successful, Starliner Mr. Kotric will take off in early 2025 on a six-month mission to the International Space Station.

Image taken from the Canadian Space Agency website

Joshua Kutric

Boeing's capsule competed with Dragon crew SpaceX awarded contracts worth a total of more than $7 billion to the two companies in 2014 to develop transportation for its astronauts. After the space shuttle retired in 2011, NASA relied on Russian capsules Soyuz To reach the International Space Station.

The excitement continued until May 2020, when SpaceX achieved its first manned flight. Boeing nearly crossed the finish line first, but experienced clock problems during its drone testing in December 2019. The company had just seen its 737 MAX grounded after two crashes. problems Starlinerwhich was to perform another unmanned test flight, in 2022, also at that time alongside Boeing aircraft.

Dragon crew It already has dozens of crewed flights to the International Space Station to its credit. SpaceX in particular has flown special missions from Axiom.

Umbrellas

The two press conferences raised many questions about disaster scenarios. Steve Stich, director of NASA's commercial human spaceflight program, had to detail the problems faced Starliner Which the agency is still working on. The oxygen valve would have to be replaced and tested and doubts remained about what would happen if one of the pilot's parachutes descended Starliner It is not properly deployed upon re-entry into the atmosphere.

Earlier in the day, Butch Wilmore was more aggressive in the face of reporters' skepticism. “During the last simulation we ran on Monday, we ran the scenario of aborting the mission before reaching orbit. All we had to do was press a button to choose to land in Ireland. We added another glitch, we had to do some maneuvers manually. However, we landed less From 200 meters from the planned site in Ireland no capsule in the world has more redundancy.

Image taken from NASA website

Sonny Williams and Butch Wilmore during a Starliner simulator in 2022

Sonny Williams added Starliner It was very similar to a lunar capsule Orion. “If I were a young astronaut with the ambition of going to the moon, I would want to keep flying Starliner “M said.I Williams.

Mr. Wilmore was equally excited about the rocket Atlas V of United Launch Alliance, which will bring Starliner To orbit on May 6. The last manned flight of an Atlas rocket was in 1962. “There is no other expendable rocket that I have more confidence in,” Wilmore said. Atlas V It has an early detection system that can save lives. »

Interruptions

During its journey to the International Space Station, Starliner It will make several last-minute attempts, especially when docking with the International Space Station. MI Williams and Mr. Wilmore will remain on the station for a week before returning to Earth. Emergency manual reentry tests will be performed during reentry into the atmosphere.

Dozens of thefts Starliner It is scheduled to continue sending astronauts to the International Space Station until 2030, and in particular with astronauts until 2028, the year in which Russia must withdraw from the international program. Boeing incurred cost overruns exceeding $1 billion on the Starliner program, leading to its bankruptcy Washington Post Last fall to predict this Starliner It will not be profitable after NASA's contracts with the International Space Station expire.

NASA's commercial contracts with SpaceX and Boeing have cut the costs of sending an astronaut to the International Space Station in half, compared to the space shuttle. to use Soyuz Slightly lower cost, US$80 million per astronaut compared to US$88 million Dragon crew.

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  • 280
    Number of astronauts who have remained on the International Space Station since 2001

    Source: NASA

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