Eva Deschamps / May 21, 2022
The docking to the Space Station (ISS) took place at 8:28 p.m. US East Coast time, more than an hour later than originally scheduled because of final checks during the maneuvers, meticulously choreographed at 400 km above our heads.
Astronauts aboard the ISS, and the control room in Houston, closely monitored the approach. Starliner first stabilized at about 250 meters from the station. Then, after moving forward slightly, the capsule moved backward to demonstrate that it could retreat if necessary.
Finally, after a new controlled stop, although longer than expected at 10 meters, the delicate final maneuver, carried out while the station was going at 28.000 km/h, was engaged. The vehicle approached slowly, until the contact.
The Starliner spacecraft successfully completes its historic first docking with the International Space Station, opening a new route to the flying laboratory for crews, said a commentator on the U.S. space agency’s live broadcast.
The capsule’s hatch will not be opened until Saturday. Boeing is carrying about 230 kg of supplies for Nasa, including food.
Starliner is scheduled to remain docked to the ISS for about five days before descending to Earth to land in the desert state of New Mexico at White Sands AFB.
This unmanned test flight had already been attempted in 2019, but the capsule had then encountered several problems and had to turn back without being able to reach the station.
Since then, Boeing has struggled to catch up with SpaceX, a relative newcomer to the aerospace industry, but which has already been transporting astronauts for NASA since 2020, after successful qualification flights of its own capsule, Dragon.