The Boeing Starliner capsule docked with the International Space Station at 1:34 pm EDT this afternoon, joining the SpaceX Dragon capsule “Endeavor,” marking the first time two capsules have docked with the orbiting space station. The Starliner lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida yesterday.

A planned earlier docking around 10:30 am was delayed by problems with the reaction control system (RCS) engines that are used to maneuver the capsule. NASA and Boeing had to troubleshoot five of the 28 RCS jets before the docking could proceed. There is speculation that helium leaks detected earlier in the mission might have been the cause of the RCS issues.

Four of the five thrusters were brought back online by astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams working with flight controllers. After the docking was secured, Wilmore and Williams boarded the space station for a reunion with members of the crew. The occasion marks the third visit to the space station for each astronaut and the first crewed flight of the Starliner.

Once seen as a direct competitor to the SpaceX Dragon capsule, the Starliner is now viewed as a backup shuttle for resupplying and recrewing the space station. NASA’s plans call for the two spacecraft to alternate missions to the space station every six months, with each vehicle making one trip per year.

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