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Indian-origin NASA astronaut Sunita Williams made history by flying to space aboard Boeing Starliner

Boeing launched its first astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a Starliner capsule on Wednesday, joining a select club of spacecraft that have carried humans beyond Earth.

Written By: Om Gupta New Delhi Published on: June 05, 2024 23:13 IST
Indian-Origin Sunita Williams
Image Source : PTI Indian-Origin Sunita Williams

Indian-origin NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, along with Butch Wilmore, has made history by becoming the first astronauts to fly to space aboard the Boeing Starliner's first-ever crewed mission. The 59-year-old Williams made history by becoming the first woman to fly on the maiden mission of a new human-rated spacecraft.

The crew was launched at 10:52 a.m. ET aboard the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

“Liftoff! Go #AtlasV! Go Centaur! Go #Starliner!” Boeing Space said in a post on X.

“Godspeed, Butch Wilmore and @Astro_Suni!” It added.

The flight comes after several delays over the years. The first human flight was scheduled for May 7 but was delayed first due to a helium leak and later because of an issue with the ground power supply at the ULA. This was the third attempt, and the weather was 90 percent favorable for the launch.

Butch, 61, will command the flight, and Williams will pilot it. The pair will stay at the International Space Station for about a week before returning to Earth aboard the reusable crew capsule.

The Starliner mission aims to carry astronauts and cargo for future NASA missions to low Earth orbit, and beyond.

Starliner becomes the sixth US-built spaceship to fly NASA astronauts, joining the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs in the 1960s and 1970s, the Space Shuttle from 1981 to 2011, and SpaceX's Crew Dragon from 2020.

The Starliner program has faced numerous safety concerns and delays over the years. A successful mission would provide Boeing with a welcomed break from the serious safety issues surrounding its passenger jets. 

Meanwhile, NASA is seeking to certify Boeing as a second commercial operator for transporting crews to the ISS. This is a role that Elon Musk's SpaceX has already been fulfilling for the US space agency for four years.

ALSO READ: China’s Chang'e-6 successfully lands on Moon's far side for sample collection

Inputs from IANS

 

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