Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is jetting its way to the International Space Station, where it is expected to dock on Friday evening over two years after its last launch failed.
The unmanned spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying more than 500 pounds of cargo from NASA.
"We’ve learned a lot about the capability of our spacecraft and the resilience of our team since the first Starliner launch,” said Mark Nappi, the vice president and program manager for the Boeing Commercial Crew Program, in a press release. “We still have a lot of operational testing ahead as we prepare to rendezvous with the space station, but we’re ready to demonstrate the system we’ve worked so hard on is capable of carrying astronauts to space.”
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The unmanned flight brings NASA one step closer to having two operational aircraft to shuttle astronauts to and from the space station.
See views from the Space Launch Complex-41 launch pad and spacecraft separation during today's #Starliner #OFT2 liftoff atop a @ulalaunch #AtlasV. Stay tuned for docking with @Space_Station on May 20. pic.twitter.com/Ztjs36IwQf— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 20, 2022
The aircraft is expected to depart the ISS on Wednesday, lugging back 600 pounds of cargo, including Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System reusable tanks, which are used to provide breathable air to crew members at the space station. The tanks will be refurbished before being sent back on a future flight.
Boeing's attempt to launch the Starliner back in December 2019 ended prematurely after a software glitch resulted in the aircraft ending up in the wrong orbit. Another launch attempt last August was called off after a problem with the propulsion value was discovered.
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The Starliner is expected to arrive at the space station around 7 p.m. on Friday.