Boeing's Starliner spacecraft encounters issues on its approach to space station

The two NASA astronauts flying Boeing’s Starliner capsule to the International Space Station on its first crewed flight encountered some issues Thursday as they approached the orbiting outpost.

The spacecraft was scheduled to dock at the space station at 12:15 p.m. ET, but problems with five of the 28 thrusters on the lower portion of the Starliner capsule thwarted that attempt.

NASA said it is now targeting a docking time of 1:33 p.m. ET.

Flight controllers continue to monitor issues with the capsule’s reaction control thrusters, which are used to make fine-tune changes to the spacecraft’s trajectory as it closes in on the space station. Various tests were able to recover all but one thruster, and mission managers gave astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams the go-ahead to proceed with the docking attempt.

The Starliner capsule is designed to dock autonomously with the space station, but Wilmore and Williams can take manual control if needed.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is more than 24 hours into its long-awaited inaugural crewed test flight to the space station. The capsule lifted off atop an Atlas V rocket Wednesday from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The test flight is designed to demonstrate that the capsule can safely ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. If successful, NASA could authorize Boeing to conduct regular flights to the space station for the agency.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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