Boeing Starliner docks at ISS in 1st crewed test flight after team finds helium leaks

Boeing’s Starliner successfully docked at the International Space Station on Thursday afternoon, bringing a pair of NASA astronauts to the orbiting laboratory as part of the spacecraft’s first crewed test flight.

Starliner docks at ISS

Update 1:40 p.m. EDT June 6: The NASA Docking System at the ISS captured the Starliner just before 1:35 p.m. EDT, according to Boeing officials. The spacecraft was docked at the ISS by 1:34 p.m., NASA said.

Astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams will spend about a week on ISS before returning home.

Original report: One of the leaks had been identified before the spacecraft lifted off on a trip to the International Space Station, and NASA discussed a management plan to deal with it, officials said.

“Two of the affected helium valves have been closed and the spacecraft remains stable,” officials said late Wednesday on social media.

On Thursday, NASA said the Starliner crew — consisting of commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams — and ISS mission management teams “are ‘go’ to proceed with space station arrival” despite the leaks.

“The flight control team will continue to monitor the leak rates in Starliner’s propulsion system,” officials said. “After docking, all of Starliner manifolds will be closed per normal plans. All other Starliner systems are functioning normally.”

The Starliner is expected to dock around 12:15 p.m., and Wilmore and Williams will remain on the orbiting laboratory for about a week.

Wednesday’s launch marked the first crewed test flight for the Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. As part of the program NASA partners with American aerospace companies “to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.”

“The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation on space station missions, which will allow for additional research time,” according to the agency.

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