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Historic Flight: NASA Successfully Launches First Crewed Starliner to International Space Station [VIDEO]

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Photo: Historic Flight: NASA Successfully Launches First Crewed Starliner to International Space Station. Source: nasa-gov
Photo: Historic Flight: NASA Successfully Launches First Crewed Starliner to International Space Station. Source: nasa-gov

NASA has successfully launched the first manned Boeing Starliner spacecraft, which has been in development for a decade. The crew is currently in Earth orbit and is on its way to dock with the International Space Station, which will take place today. 

Earlier, on Wednesday evening, the space agency announced in a post on X that two additional helium leaks had been detected on the vehicle. One helium leak was detected prior to launch and was deemed acceptable.

‘Helium is used in spacecraft engine systems to allow them to launch, and it is not flammable or toxic,’ Boeing said.

"The teams found three helium leaks on the spacecraft. One of them was previously discussed before the flight along with the management plan," NASA said in a statement. 

"The other two are new after the spacecraft arrived in orbit. Two of the affected helium valves have been closed, and the spacecraft remains stable."

The exchange was broadcast live by NASA.

Just as astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams were about to go to bed, mission control informed them that they needed to close two valves due to a new helium leak.

‘It looks like we've detected a couple more helium leaks,’ Mission Control told the astronauts, as heard on the broadcast. Controllers then briefed the crew on a plan to close the valves.

This mission is known as the Crew Flight Test. It was the culmination of Boeing's efforts to develop a spacecraft that would rival SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule and expand the United States' ability to deliver astronauts to the space station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. 

The initiative is aimed at promoting cooperation with private industrial partners.

This third attempt was a successful mission for the Boeing Starliner and an important milestone that had been decades in the making. The long-awaited journey of the new spacecraft with humans on board launched on an Atlas V rocket at 10:52 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida the day before.

 ‘This flight is only the sixth first crewed spaceflight in U.S. history,’ NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at a press conference in May.

Astronaut Suni Williams also made history as the first woman to fly aboard such a mission.


The Starliner spacecraft will dock with the space station today at 12:15 a.m. EDT. Watch live video from the International Space Station.

  


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