Astronauts should have been transported to and from the ISS long ago with Boeing’s “Starliner”. But the project is plagued by problems. Now, for the first time, a test flight has been successful.

The “Starliner” spacecraft developed by Boeing on behalf of the US space agency Nasa has completed a successful test flight to the International Space Station ISS for the first time.

After around four days at the ISS, the unmanned spacecraft undocked from the space station as planned on Wednesday and landed a few hours later in the US state of New Mexico, as Boeing and Nasa announced.

It was an important test for the crisis-ridden «Starliner». In the future, the spaceship will transport astronauts to the ISS as an alternative to SpaceX’s “Crew Dragon” space capsule. However, due to a number of issues, the project is well behind schedule.

Issues and postponed tests

Actually, the “Starliner” should have transported astronauts to and from the ISS long ago, but during a first test in December 2019, the spacecraft did not make it to the ISS – partly because of a problem with the automatic ignition of the drives. The tests were postponed several times last year – and then the “Starliner” finally had to go back to the workshop completely because of valve problems.

NASA had described the successful launch from the Cape Canaveral spaceport as a “milestone” last week. The spacecraft carried over 300 kilograms of cargo, including supplies for the crew of the ISS.

The Starliner is a semi-reusable spacecraft consisting of a crew capsule and a rocket-launched service module. Once approved for human transport, it can carry up to four crew members to the ISS.