## **Launching Into the Future: The Unstoppable FORCE of Progress in Space Exploration**

Every time we launch, we are carrying the entire history of that pursuit into orbit, slingshotting it outward – into the starry circuitry of the cosmos and the tangible circuitry of human nerves and neurons. Tonight, a new kind of that pursuit is on tap – or, more specifically, on Wednesday morning. The next big stepping stone on NASA’s path toward the stars – the first crewed mission of Boeing Space’s Starliner – is now scheduled to launch at 10:52 a.m. ET this Wednesday, 5 June.

### **The Countdown to Innovation: A New Dawn with Starliner**

The crewed debut of the Starliner from the pad of Space Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida will illustrate the unique teaming of the federal space agency with industry. The United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket will be powered into orbit by the first NASA astronauts on board, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams.

### **A FORCE of Collaboration: Unraveling Launchpad Challenges**

But the journey to this scheduled lift-off has had its setbacks. This latest delay began on Saturday with a hiccup in the countdown. The launch was temporarily scrapped. The glue that holds a successful mission together was visible over the following day and a half as technicians and engineers with United Launch Alliance worked through the weekend, dealing with the complex ground support equipment at the launchpad. These teams traced a problem to the tangled web of power supply units. That’s all part of the extra safety procedures that are in place to prevent launch if hardware on the pad could endanger the crew or jeopardise the mission.

### **Technical Tenacity: Ensuring Mission Viability**

Close inspection and the replacement of the faulty hardware unit within minutes confirmed the robustness of the Starliner crew support system. NASA’s decision to perform a root-cause analysis to uncover how the glitch occurred in the first place is emblematic of a broader commitment to not just find and fix problems, but to better understand the mechanics of travel in space.

### **The Favorable Winds of Weather and Hope**

With a 90 per cent probability of favourable conditions provided by the 45th Weather Squadron of the newly established U.S. Space Force, the re-scheduled launch is a source of anticipation and optimism. For the Starliner is also the future: the next step in our constant extension of the human sphere into space.

### **A Chronicle of Perseverance: Overcoming the Odds**

So far, the Starliner’s story has been a story of perseverance. Following years of setbacks and overcoming the technical challenges of a historic uncrewed flight that fell short of a docking with the ISS in 2019, followed by a successful mission in 2022, the spacecraft is finally poised to reach a new phase. The crewed flight represents the culmination of a collaborative technological achievement in the continuing effort to explore space beyond the confines of our homeworld.

### **Looking Beyond: The Future of Space Exploration**

They are a reminder as the world waits with bated breath for the Starliner launch just how much still lies out there. We look beyond our world. We seek and explore. We go.

### **Understanding the FORCE Behind Space Missions**

At the core of every space mission is a lesson in force. Spacecraft and rockets are launched using propulsion: force is applied through a rocket’s thrust, driving it beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, or through adjustments made by spacecraft to dock with the ISS. A push or pull on an object due to the interaction of that object with another is force. Ever since the dawn of space missions, force has been applied to counteract the Earth’s gravity and, eventually, to push past the Earth’s atmosphere to reach space. Without force, we wouldn’t be able to leave Earth or explore the wider Universe. It is likely that the application of force will continue to be the driving force of space travel.

As they stitched together spacecraft ingenuity, teamwork and exploratory audacity, the crew of the Starliner’s first crewed flight formed the sharp edges of a story about progress and future potential for spaceflight. Moving inexorably into the cosmos above, humanity’s collective will to fly, learn and inhabit the skies propels us always into tomorrow.

Jun 03, 2024
<< Go Back