The unmanned mission CST-100 starlinera joint project of NASA and the Boeing companytook off this Thursday towards the International Space Station (ISS), a trip that will determine if the private firm obtains certification to carry astronauts and cargo into space. The CST-100 Starliner unmanned capsule took off mounted on top of an Atlas V rocket at 6:54 p.m. this Thursday (22:54 GMT) from Complex-41 of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, as part of the Commercial Crew program developed by NASA. About six minutes later, NASA confirmed on Twitter that the first stage of separation had been successful. “We have had a successful start-up on the #AtlasV. Dual Engine Centaur first stage separation and upper stage firing has occurred off the coast of the Carolinas. Both engines are running.”
The second stage of separation occurred 14 minutes and 54 seconds after liftoff, so the Boeing spacecraft continued on its way to the ISS alone. During the flight, a camera attached to the capsule made it possible to see how the Earth was getting further and further away.
Boeing’s Starliner capsule, about 5 meters high and with capacity for a crew of up to seven people, will cross the Earth’s atmosphere with the help of an Atlas V rocket, 52 meters high and built by the private consortium United Launch Alliance ( ULA), of which Boeing is also a member. It is, details NASA, of “a demonstration flight that gets one step closer to certification to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station,” just as SpaceX already does.
The launch test is about demonstrating “the end-to-end capabilities” of the Starliner spacecraft and the Atlas V rocket, from launch to return to Earth, it adds. This is the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for the commercial crew programpoints out the US agency.
About 24 hours after launch, the ISS Harmony module will receive the spacecraft, which will dock autonomously and arrive with 800 pounds (more than 360 kilos) of cargo, of which 500 (almost 230 kilos) correspond to material from NASA and supplies for the crew. The capsule will stay for about five days in the orbiting laboratory before embarking on a return trip that will end in the New Mexico desert, where it will land with 600 pounds (270 kg) of cargo, including three reusable oxygen refill system tanks. and nitrogen that provide breathable air for station crew members.
Like SpaceX, the firm of billionaire Elon Musk, Boeing has a contract of more than 4.2 billion dollars with NASA to take care of transporting astronauts and equipment to and from the space station taking off from US soil.