Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is currently on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) after a successful launch aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday evening.
The spacecraft, which is on its second uncrewed test flight following a failed mission in 2019, is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 7:10 p.m. ET (4:10 p.m. PT) on Friday, May 20.
Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), as the mission is known, is crucial for Boeing as it seeks to prove that it has finally resolved the myriad of issues that ruined the first test flight and also prevented a second launch attempt in August last year.
Besides acting as a test flight, the spacecraft is also carrying with it 500 pounds of cargo for the station.
If the Starliner can dock at the space station on Friday, and also make a successful return to Earth next week in a parachute-assisted landing in New Mexico, then the next test flight will include a crew.
Assuming the crewed flight to the ISS goes as planned, NASA will finally have another transportation option — alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft — for astronaut missions to and from the ISS.
What to expect
The livestream will show the Starliner’s steady approach to the space station, with a real-time audio feed between Mission Control in Houston and the crew on the ISS also part of the broadcast.
We’ll also get to see Boeing’s spacecraft attempt its first-ever docking with the space station. Starliner, like the Crew Dragon, features an automatic docking system that should enable it to autonomously link up with the orbital outpost.
Friday’s docking maneuver is a highly anticipated part of the mission as the spacecraft never got this far on its first test flight three years ago.
How to watch
NASA will begin its livestream of the Starliner’s arrival at the space station at 3:30 p.m. ET (12:30 p.m. PT) on Friday, May 20.
The actual docking is scheduled to take place about three-and-a-half hours later at 7:10 p.m. ET (4:10 p.m. PT).
You can watch the livestream via the video player embedded at the top of this page, or by visiting NASA’s website, which will carry the same feed.
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