Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time today as the two vehicles orbited about 250 miles above Earth. The docking showed that the spacecraft can effectively execute a rendezvous and docking with the ISS. Starliner will be able to complete this action repeatedly as it takes crews to the orbiting laboratory in the future.
After launching from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida yesterday, Starliner took a carefully crafted course to the ISS that allowed Starliner to show its systems were working well on orbit before approaching the station and connecting to the orbital complex. Starliner achieved soft capture 26 hours and 34 minutes into the flight test on the spacecraft’s first docking attempt.
Springs on the Starliner’s docking system settled out all motion between ISS and Starliner before the docking ring retracted and 12 hooks closed to complete the docking process. Teams at Starliner Mission Control commanded the spacecraft from the ground, connecting the systems between Starliner and the ISS that allow electrical power and data to flow between the two vehicles.
The ISS crew is slated to open Starliner’s hatch tomorrow and float aboard the spacecraft, becoming the first people to see inside a Starliner while in space. Waiting for them will be anthropometric test device and veteran space traveler “Rosie the Rocketeer.” Now orbiting as one complex, the Starliner will go into a quiescent phase that will see most of its systems powered down until the spacecraft is ready to undock and come back to Earth.
Coverage of hatch open will be carried live on NASA TV and at www.nasa.gov/live, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.