Who are the astronauts on the Boeing Starliner?

Time Of Info By TOI Desk Report   June 6, 2024   Update on : June 6, 2024

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Photo: Courtesy/starlinerupdates.com

Boeing’s new Starliner capsule took off on Wednesday into orbit from Florida with the first crew of astronauts to the International Space Station in a test mission muddled with delays.

Despite delays, this was a milestone for the aerospace giant, Boeing, in ramping up competition against Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The CST-100 Starliner lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, strapped to an Atlas V rocket furnished and flown by joint venture United Launch Alliance (ULA) between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Two veteran NASA astronauts with 500 days of previous spaceflight experience between them were the first crew of Boeing Starliner space flight.

Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams would test out the Starliner’s manual controls before docking with the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit on Thursday. It would be their third trip to the ISS.

Barry Wilmore, 61, is a retired US Navy captain, who completed four deployments, flying fighter jets off aircraft carriers, including 21 combat missions during the first US-Gulf War in the 1990s.

Before joining the NASA astronaut corps in 2000, he served as a Navy test pilot and flight instructor.

He first flew to the ISS as a NASA space shuttle pilot in 2009. Later, in 2014, he returned to the orbiting laboratory onboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts.

Wilmore logged 178 days in space and four spacewalks.

A native of Tennessee, who played college football while attending Tennessee Tech University, Wilmore holds advanced degrees in electrical engineering and aviation systems. He is married with two daughters.

Meanwhile, Sunita Williams, 58, is a former Navy helicopter pilot who flew over 30 different rotary aircraft.

She was deployed as a part of a helicopter combat support squadron during the first Gulf War. Later, she flew for Navy disaster relief operations in Florida following Hurricane Andrew.

Before being selected for the NASA astronaut program in 1998, Williams returned to Navy test pilot school as a rotary aircraft instructor.

Williams first flew to the space station and then returned as a Soyuz spacecraft passenger, along with two cosmonauts.

Her space station tours, in 2006-2007 and in 2012, were long-duration science expeditions.

She logged a total of 50 hours and 40 minutes combined during seven spacewalks.

Williams, an avid athlete, became the first person to complete a marathon in space in 2007, after completing the Boston Marathon from orbit virtually on the ISS’ treadmill in 4 hours 24 minutes.

Taking it to the next level, Williams in 2012 completed the first triathlon from space, again using treadmill, a stationary bicycle, and performed a mix of weight-lifting and resistance exercises on a fitness machine which was equivalent to swimming in microgravity.

So far, Williams has spent a total of 322 days in space, and has made history once again by becoming the first woman to fly on the inaugural crewed mission of a new orbital spacecraft.

Born in Massachusetts, Williams currently lives with her husband in Houston, who is a federal police officer and also flew helicopters earlier in his career.


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