Boeing’s Starliner successfully docks at International Space Station

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station on Friday night.

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Starliner, built for NASA to take astronauts to and from the ISS, blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday, WFTV reported. However, the spacecraft had to complete a test flight without astronauts to demonstrate that its systems work properly.

The successful docking, at 8:28 p.m. EDT, still puts Starliner far behind SpaceX, the company owned by billionaire Elon Musk. SpaceX completed the same test three years ago and has since sent 18 astronauts and tourists to the ISS, according to The Associated Press.

“Today marks a great milestone,” NASA astronaut Bob Hines radioed from the ISS. “Starliner is looking beautiful on the front of the station.”

The only other time Boeing’s Starliner flew in space it wound up in the wrong orbit and never came close to the space station, the AP reported. Software errors thwarted the capsule’s first test flight in December 2019, while corroded valves stopped a second launch attempt last summer, according to the news agency.

If the rest of Starliner’s mission goes well, Boeing could launch its first crew by the end of this year, according to the AP.

The space station’s seven astronauts will unload groceries and gear from Starliner, the news organization reported. The spacecraft is scheduled to land in New Mexico on Wednesday.