'You leave nothing to chance': Astronauts prepare for arrival of Boeing's Starliner at space station

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft mounted on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft mounted on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Copyright Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP, File
Copyright Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP, File
By Roselyne Min with AP
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Boeing is due to launch the company’s first-ever crewed mission next week.


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are getting ready to welcome Boeing's first human spaceflight.

The mission, known as Crew Flight Test, is set to launch next Monday.

Aboard Boeing’s Starliner capsule will be NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams who will spend about 10 days at the space station.

SpaceX Crew-8 astronauts, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, Matthew Dominick and Alexander Grebenkin, will oversee the arrival of the new rocketship ordered by NASA.

“The arrival of a brand-new vehicle, the first crewed flight of a new generation spacecraft is a really big deal. You leave nothing to chance,” said Barratt.

Barratt said the crew would go over every detail in the rendezvous approach, docking, and “every little nook and cranny of possibilities that we need to look at”.

“So basically the same procedures and precautions we would take with any vehicle except the excitement ratchets up a little bit because it's a brand-new vehicle," Barratt added.

The crew has already relocated their Dragon capsule, Endeavour, to make room for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Endeavour undocked from the forward-facing port of the station's Harmony module, where the new Starliner capsule will land, and then autonomously docked with Harmony's space-facing port on Thursday.

NASA previously relocated crewed Dragon capsules, for the Crew-1, Crew-2 and Crew-6 missions, the agency wrote in an announcement.

Crew-8 is the eighth operational crewed mission SpaceX has flown for NASA. They arrived at the ISS in March and will stay until September.

NASA astronauts Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps from SpaceX Crew-8.
NASA astronauts Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps from SpaceX Crew-8.NASA via AP Video

‘Breathtaking’ views from ISS

Jeanette Epps says she has been in awe of floating at the space station and the "breathtaking" views of Earth.

"There's so many things that wowed me... Just the feeling of being weightless in space, this whole feeling,” Epps said.

“But the biggest thing for me was seeing the planet from this vantage point. It's absolutely breathtaking, and its beauty, its position in space, the blackness around it, all of it just causes you to gasp and just say, wow, that's our home and there's nothing nearby. So, we really have to take care of our planet," she added.

A former Ford Motor engineer and technical intelligence officer at the CIA, Epps is the second Black woman assigned to a long station mission.

She said before the flight that she is especially proud to be a role model for Black girls, demonstrating that spaceflight “is an option for them, that this is not just for other people”.

Barratt, a 65-year-old doctor on his third mission, is the oldest full-time astronaut to fly in space. He says he has adapted more quickly during the current mission.

"Even though there was an 11- or 12-year gap between the flights, how much of that is cognitive strategies versus what's innately remembered by the body?” said Barratt.


“That's up to debate, I'm not sure, but I felt very comfortable very quickly up here, just both handling the fluid shift and some of the other changes and being able to navigate in three dimensions and handle things and not lose stuff,” he added.

“So, I would say that whatever factor age may have played, I did adapt more quickly, this being my third spaceflight".

For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.

Video editor • Roselyne Min

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