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Third chance for the Starliner capsule trying to take a mannequin to the space station

Boeing’s new Starliner crew capsule is lifted into orbit on a test flight to the International Space Station.

This latest mission comes after years of being grounded by faults that could have doomed the spacecraft.

Only a test dummy was on board when the rocket launched. If the capsule reaches the International Space Station on Friday and all goes well, two or three NASA test pilots could strap in by the end of this year or early next year for the first flight. in company crew.

This is Boeing’s third shot at the high-stakes flight.

Starliner’s first test flight in 2019 was hit with software errors so severe that the capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and had to skip the space station. The spacecraft was nearly destroyed as ground controllers quickly aborted the mission.

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After dozens of security fixes, Boeing returned a different capsule to the launch pad last summer. Corroded valves interrupted the countdown, prompting another round of repairs.

The endless test flight program cost Boeing about US$600 million (over $851 million).

Boeing is looking to redeem itself as it tries to catch up with SpaceX, NASA’s other contracted taxi service.

Elon Musk’s company has been ferrying astronauts to and from the space station for two years and delivering cargo for an entire decade.

Eager to reduce its high-cost reliance on Russia for crew transport, NASA contracted Boeing and SpaceX to send astronauts to the space station after the shuttle program ended in 2011.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that was why it was so important for Boeing’s Starliner to succeed.

Starliner will spend nearly a week on the space station before aiming for a touchdown in the New Mexico desert.

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