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Sunita Williams set to create history as first woman to pilot Boeing Starliner spacecraft

NRI PULSE STAFF REPORT & IANS

May 7, 2024: The launch of the Boeing Starliner, which was set to take astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore to space, has been postponed due to a technical glitch. The new launch date is May 10, the company said in a statement.

The flight was expected to take off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 8.04 a.m. IST on May 7 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The 59-year-old Williams is set to create history by being the first woman to fly on the maiden mission of a new human-rated spacecraft.

This will be Sunita’s third flight to space — the first in 2006 and the second in 2012.

According to NASA, “Sunita has spent a cumulative total of 322 days in space.”

“When I reach the International Space Station, it will be like going back home,” she was quoted as saying to NDTV.

Sunita, who will serve as the mission pilot, has named the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft “Calypso” for her love of the ocean.

It is also “in reference to the ship of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau, who sailed across the world on his own ship bearing the same name,” NASA shared in a post on X.com.

The mission called Crew Flight Test (CFT) will last about 10 days and will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system.

The Starliner spacecraft, with a diameter of 15 feet (4.56 meters), is capable of carrying up to four astronauts, or a mix of crew and cargo, for NASA missions to low Earth orbit for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

After being scrubbed two hours before launch, Boeing now aims to launch the Starliner’s first crewed mission on May 10, it said on Tuesday.

The liftoff, targeted for 10:34 pm ET(0234 UTC May 7) on May 7, was stalled due to a valve issue on the upper stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

“The next launch opportunity will be no earlier than Friday, May 10,” the company said in a statement.

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