May 22, 2024

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NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sonny Williams arrive in Florida on Boeing's first manned space flight.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sonny Williams arrive in Florida on Boeing's first manned space flight.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The two NASA astronauts tasked with Boeing's first crewed spaceflight arrived at the launch site Thursday, a little more than a week before their scheduled launch.

Butch Wilmore and Sonny Williams will serve as test pilots for Boeing's Starliner capsule, which will debut with a crew after years of delays. They flew from Houston to Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.

Due to launch on May 6 aboard an Atlas rocket, the Starliner vehicle will fly to the International Space Station on a week-long cruise. Boeing is trying to catch up with SpaceX, which has been launching astronauts for NASA since 2020.

No one had been on board Boeing's previous two Starliner test flights. The first, in 2019, Did not succeed to the space station due to software and other problems. Boeing Repeat the show In 2022. And most recently the capsule afflicted Due to problems with the awnings and flammable tape that had to be removed.

Wilmore stressed that this is a test flight aimed at uncovering anything amiss.

“Do we expect things to go perfectly? This is the first human spacecraft flight.” “I'm sure we'll figure things out. That's why we do this.”

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing a decade ago, paying the companies billions of dollars to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. The space agency is still keen to obtain capsules from two competing companies for its astronauts, even as the space station finishes operations by 2030.

“This is critical,” Wilmore noted.

Wilmore and Williams will be the first astronauts to ride on an Atlas rocket since NASA's Project Mercury in the early 1960s.

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