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Boeing’s Starliner sends its first astronaut crew to orbit

On her third spaceflight, astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams has become the first woman to test a spacecraft's maiden crewed flight

Boeing’s Starliner sends its first astronaut crew to orbit
[Source photo: X]

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft lifted off with astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore on board on 5 June on its maiden crewed flight.
Williams and Wilmore, who took off at 10:52am ETfrom the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, will take a little more than 24 hours to reach the International Space Station (ISS) at 12.15pm (9.45 pm IST) Thursday.
On her third spaceflight, Williams became the first woman  to test a spacecraft’s maiden crewed flight .
NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement that the two “bold” astronauts were on their way towards a historic first test flight of a brand-new spacecraft.
“Boeing’s Starliner marks a new chapter of American exploration. Human spaceflight is a daring task – but that’s why it’s worth doing. It’s an exciting time for NASA, our commercial partners, and the future of exploration,” he added.
Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, also offered congratulations to the crew on X (formerly Twitter).
“Congratulations on a successful launch!” he said.

After retiring its Space Shuttle Program in 2011, NASA, through its Commercial Crew Program, awarded funding to both Boeing and SpaceX to develop ways for crew transportation to the ISS and back.
Boeing secured over $4 billion, while SpaceX received about $2.6 billion in federal funds for their projects.
The test-flight launched on Wednesday after years of delays and two failed attempts.
This mission is a critical step in certifying Starliner for regular crew rotation missions to the space station, according to NASA, and if successful, Starliner could join SpaceX’s Crew Dragon program as another option for the space agency’s six-month astronaut missions to the ISS.
“With Starliner’s launch, separation from the rocket, and arrival on orbit, Boeing’s crew flight test is right on track,” said Mark Nappi, vice-president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program.
“Everyone is focused on giving Suni and Butch a safe, comfortable ride and performing a successful test mission from start to finish,” he said.
During the flight, Boeing will monitor spacecraft maneuvers from their mission control in Houston, while NASA will oversee space station operations from their Johnson Space Center.
Starliner is expected to dock with the orbiting laboratory on Thursday afternoon and remain there for about a week.
Wilmore and Williams will join the current crew and assist with testing the spacecraft’s systems.

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