Historic success.  Starliner has arrived at the International Space Station

It was not without adventures along the way. Two of the 12 main propulsion engines failed during flight. The temperature control system was also damaged. In addition, the docking process itself had to be postponed twice.

For the first time, the Washington Post reported, “Observers on the ground worked to validate the telemetry data as well as provide ideal lighting conditions and stable communications.” In the second case, the problem was the mechanism that the Starliner used to dock. It had to be folded and pulled again for it to work properly.

However, these problems were not serious enough to torpedo the mission.

Mission success means that, for the first time in history, a country will have a fleet of two different ships designed to carry people into space (the other being SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s Crew Dragon).

It’s also a success on the path Americans — and their space agency, NASA — have taken more than a decade ago: to hand orbital transport to the private sector. It is noteworthy that at the time of formulating this strategy, its success was not at all clear. Previously, governments and their space agencies had a monopoly on bringing people and goods into orbit.

The Starliner will spend 5-10 days “up”, after which it will return to Earth with approximately 300 kg of baggage from the International Space Station. If all goes well, the capsule will soon take the astronauts with it. Boeing estimates that it will be able to be used about 10 times. Why only so much? Space travel places a heavy burden on spacecraft materials. Nobody wants a car to hit the atmosphere because of a fault unless it’s detected.

Although the flight was unmanned, this does not mean that the capsule was launched empty. On board were approximately 300 kilograms of supplies for astronauts on the International Space Station. In the captain’s seat was an unusual “passenger” – a mannequin with the name “Rosie Rakiterka”.

Rosie weighs about 80 kilograms and this was her second flight – so she’s a space veteran. The doll also participated in the first unsuccessful Starliner flight in 2019. At that time and now she had a responsible task – to collect information about the conditions of the capsule during the flight. This is important because astronauts are then exposed to an overload. A set of sensors helped Rosie with this task.

Rosie’s first flight provided us with a wealth of information about what the astronauts will feel during their journey. This time around, Rosie will help us maintain the capsule’s center of gravity during takeoff, docking, detachment from station and back, as Melanie Webber, the Boeing team member responsible for the Starliner, explained before the start of last year. Why is maintaining the center of gravity so important? – Even a passenger car must maintain a proper center of gravity, otherwise there is a risk of tipping over – the company employee explained.

– During the first test flight, Rosia provided us with invaluable information about the forces exerted on the person sitting in the commander’s seat, and now a set of new sensors will tell us what is happening to the passengers occupying the remaining seats. As a rule, the feelings in each should be the same, but our engineers want to make sure of this, so that each astronaut can enjoy an enjoyable flight – said Dan Niedermayer, chief engineer of the capsule, in a statement from 2021.

Róża is named after “Róża Nitowaczka” – an American pop culture icon, a character from the song “Rosie the Riveter” by Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb, who personified the women working in American factories during World War II. Over time, the woman’s nickname was stuck from the famous poster “We Can Do It”, whose heroine flexes her biceps and wears a distinctive red scarf with white dots on her head. The same, for the duration of the mission, was also received by Różia Rakieterka from the Starliner deck.

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