Astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) opened the hatch for the first time to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft at 12:04 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 21, on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2).
Starliner launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on a flight test to the International Space Station at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed spacecraft successfully docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT Friday, May 20.
For the flight test, Starliner carried about 500 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies and more than 300 pounds of Boeing cargo to the International Space Station. Following certification, NASA missions aboard Starliner will carry up to four crew members to the orbiting outpost, enabling the continued expansion of the crew and increasing the amount of science and research that can be performed aboard the space laboratory.
The uncrewed flight test was designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 will provide valuable data for NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
Starliner is scheduled to depart the space station on Wednesday, May 25, when it will undock and return to Earth, with a desert landing in the western U.S. The spacecraft will return with more than 600 pounds of cargo, including Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System reusable tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members. The tanks will be refurbished on Earth and sent back to the station on a future flight.