Starliner, the Boeing capsule, reaches the ISS for the first time

Docking with the Space Station (ISS) took place at 8:28 p.m. US East Coast time (00:28 GMT Saturday), more than an hour behind the originally scheduled time due to final checks during maneuvers , meticulously choreographed 400 km above our heads.

Astronauts aboard the ISS, and the control room in Houston, closely monitored the approach. Starliner first leveled off about 250 yards from the station. Then, after advancing slightly, the capsule retreated in order to demonstrate that it could retreat if necessary.

Finally, after a new controlled stop although longer than expected at 10 meters, the delicate final maneuver, carried out while the station is spinning at 28,000 km / h, has been initiated. The vehicle approached slowly, until contact.

“The Starliner spacecraft successfully completes its historic first docking with the International Space Station, opening a new route to the flying laboratory for crews,” said a commentator on the US space agency’s live broadcast.

The capsule hatch won’t be open until Saturday. Boeing is transporting about 230 kg of supplies on behalf of NASA, including food.

Starliner must remain docked to the ISS for about five days, before descending to Earth to land in the desert of the US state of New Mexico, on the basis of White Sands.

This unmanned test flight had already been attempted in 2019, but the capsule had then encountered several problems and had to turn back without being able to reach the station.

Since then, Boeing has been struggling to catch up with SpaceX, a newcomer to the aerospace sector in comparison, but which has already been transporting astronauts for NASA since 2020, after the successful qualification flights of its own capsule, Dragon.