Yesterday, ULA launched an Atlas V rocket from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket carried Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule towards the International Space Station for an uncrewed test flight. Check out the Space Explored team’s picture gallery of OFT-2:
This is Boeing’s second attempt to test Starliner’s capabilities in orbit. The first attempt, OFT-1, was unable to dock with the station due to an issue with the mission elapsed time. Having the incorrect time, the spacecraft burnt through much of its fuel improperly, and it couldn’t rendezvous with the station. A second issue that could have prevented the capsule from safely landing was also fixed while it was on orbit.
After addressing these issues, Boeing was ready for another attempt, and its Starliner capsule was mounted atop another Atlas V rocket for launch. This attempt was in August of last year, but it was halted due to issues with 13 valves on the spacecraft, forcing it to return to the factory.
With a new capsule ready, with corrections in place, Boeing was ready once again for launch, and ULA’s Atlas V rocket lifted off the pad at 6:54 p.m. on Thursday, May 19.
The Space Explored team was on-site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to capture the launch.
OFT-2 launch pictures
During flight so far, there have been issues with two of Starliner’s thrusters, but a third was able to make up for them, and the two went into a fail-safe condition.
Remote camera shots
In addition to telephoto shots with long lenses, the Space Explored team had cameras set at the launch pad to capture the launch remotely. These cameras, set within a few hundred feet of the rocket and spacecraft, are sound triggered. They are set in advance – for OFT-2, they were set Wednesday afternoon – and they need to be protected from the elements. This includes both weather and the plume of smoke, water, and residue from the SRBs that will often coat them following launch. All this is done to try to get some of the best up-close pictures of the launch from places that no person is allowed to be.
OFT-2 engine pictures
One of the more specialty shots done with remote cameras is an engine shot, where the picture is exposed much darker, with a very fast shutter speed, in order to capture detail in the flame of the rocket. Both Jared and I had cameras set for this exposure type.