*** ----> Boeing Starliner crew aboard ISS after challenging docking | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Boeing Starliner crew aboard ISS after challenging docking

AFP | Washington

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

A Boeing Starliner capsule carrying its first ever astronauts docked with the International Space Station on Thursday after overcoming unexpected challenges arising from thruster malfunctions and helium leaks.

The spaceship dubbed “Calypso” rendezvoused with the orbital lab at 1:34 pm ET (1734 GMT) over the southern Indian Ocean, allowing crewmates Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to enter a while later.

“We’re ready to get to work,” declared Wilmore, while Williams performed a little dance to celebrate the arrival, the third stay aboard the ISS for both of the ex-Navy test pilots.

Docking was delayed by more than an hour after some of Starliner’s thrusters that provide fine maneuvering initially failed to kick in, forcing the astronauts to perform a “hot fire” to activate them.

“I would say Starliner made us work a little harder to get docked,” Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, later told reporters, explaining that ground teams now had to work to understand the issues that had emerged during flight.

Wilmore and Williams are the first crew to fly Starliner, which Boeing and NASA are hoping to certify for regular rides to the ISS -- a role SpaceX has been fulfilling for the past four years.