Sunita Williams Launches a Historic Mission on NASA’s Starliner
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Sunita Williams Launches a Historic Mission on NASA’s Starliner

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams rocketed into space, making history as the first woman to test a spacecraft on its maiden mission. Williams spent the last ten years contributing to the spacecraft’s design. She launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida aboard Boeing’s Starliner spaceship at 8:22 p.m. on an Atlas 5 rocket. It’s her third trip into space.

Starliner was successfully launched into the proper orbit on its third attempt. One day later, it will dock with the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX Crew Dragon, ISS, and Boeing Starliner are the three US crewed spacecraft currently in orbit at the same time.

According to NASA, if everything goes according to plan, Starliner will dock at the Harmony module of the ISS, and Williams and her fellow passenger Butch Wilmore will stay for around a week to test the spacecraft and its subsystems. Completing this trip is essential to certifying the Starliner for routine NASA Commercial Crew Programme missions.

The nearly ten-day expedition aims to demonstrate Starliner’s suitability for long-duration space travel.

NASA gave Boeing a $4.2 billion contract in 2014 to create it, but compared to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which cost $2.6 billion and is currently in operation, Boeing’s project was beset with delays.