Astronauts use Boeing Starliner’s unique manual piloting on way to ISS

  • The Boeing Starliner aircraft completed a mission to the International Space Station
  • The astronauts tested the hand controllers of the aircraft
  • The test was essential for future missions

Published on Jun 06, 2024 at 4:10 PM (UTC+4)
by Daksh Chaudhary

Last updated on Jun 06, 2024 at 11:16 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

A Boeing Starliner aircraft, piloted by astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams, just completed a groundbreaking mission to the International Space Station.

The astronauts conducted a manual piloting test during the journey.

The test was essential for ensuring the spacecraft’s readiness for future missions.

READ MORE: NASA reveals what it takes to become an astronaut

The Boeing Starliner is usually an autonomous aircraft, just like the Skydweller plane.

However, the astronauts tested the hand controllers of the aircraft for about two hours of free-flight demonstrations.

As expected, the manual piloting passed with flying colors.

These guys are pretty good at what they do – and very well-trained – after all.

Butch Wilmore, the Crew Flight Test (CFT) commander even praised the precision of manual maneuvering.

“We’ve also spun out the manual maneuvering and it is precise, much more so than even the simulator,” he said.

“Stopping exactly on a number you want to stop on, the precision is pretty amazing,” he further added.

Although, the Boeing Starliner was praised for its precision and advanced technology, let’s not forget about the long experience and expertise of these astronauts.

Tests performed during the mission

During one demonstration, the astronauts pointed the Starliner’s nose toward Earth to line up its communications antenna with TDRS satellites.

In another one, they also moved the Starliner to face the sun, showing how it can charge its batteries if needed.

They also pointed the Starliner away from Earth to demonstrate how star trackers can determine its position in space.

Another key part of the mission was changing the Starliner’s speed to adjust their orbit slightly.

Overall, it was a successful mission for Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore, and even more successful for the Boeing Starliner.

Space agencies have been doing some revolutionary work recently.

Some time ago, SpaceX gave us a hint about the massive size of the next-gen Starship, and now, the Boeing Starliner is changing the face of space exploration once again.


Daksh Chaudhary

Meet Daksh: Not your typical pro, but definitely a pro at being fascinated by supercars, tech, and all things futuristic. When he's not nose-deep in work, catch him glued to anime screens or lost in the pages of a good book.