Boeing’s Starliner finally reaches the ISS –

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft has had a rough few years, but this afternoon it successfully docked at the International Space Station, its first successful mission into orbit. Despite some hiccups, this launch went more or less as planned, and if the craft can return safely to Earth, it will be a huge achievement for the beleaguered space company.

Without listing all the problems the Starliner has had, suffice it to say that delays upon delays led some to question whether this capsule would ever enter orbit, not to mention making regular trips with crew on board.

But naysayers may have to shut up, at least for a week or two, after the Starliner’s successful launch and runway insertion yesterday, and what appeared to be a textbook docking procedure this afternoon. Check out this awesome shot of the capsule during its “inbound scenic flight”:

That’s not to say there weren’t problems. Two Orbital Maneuver and Attitude Control (OMAC) thrusters, which are as important as they sound, had to be turned off during insertion burn due to “a pressure drop in the chamber”. There is also “off-rated behavior of a thermal cooling loop.”

Of course, there have been layoffs and tolerances for this sort of thing, and the Starliner gleefully moved on. But a failure of multiple thrusters is not something you can shake off because “space is difficult”. This wasn’t the craft’s first time in space, nor was it the first time it had propulsion problems.

You better believe that NASA, which paid Boeing handsomely to develop this equipment, will see this event through an electron microscope before they spend another dime on the program.

Nevertheless, the spacecraft has completed its official orbital mission – a first for the Starliner – and a huge number of things have to go right for that to happen. That’s definitely a win for Boeing, and they really needed one.

Plus, they got this really awesome view, which looks fake but is absolutely real:

Image Credits: NASA