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      NASA astronauts Suni Williams (pictured left) and Butch Wilmore (pictured right) launched at 10:52 a.m. EDT June 5 as the first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.Credits: NASA Following their safe arrival at the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will participate in a pair of Earth to space calls Monday, June 10, regarding their historic mission aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft:
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      Coverage of the call will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms including social media.
      At 2:40 p.m., the astronauts will participate in a Q&A moderated by Chirag Parikh, deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and executive secretary for the White House’s National Space Council.
      Coverage of the call will stream live on NASA+, NASA Television, and the agency’s website.
      Wilmore and Williams launched at 10:52 a.m. June 5, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test mission. They docked to the orbiting laboratory at 1:34 p.m., June 6, and will remain for a week-long stay, testing Starliner and its subsystems as the next step in the spacecraft’s certification for rotational missions as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
      NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is delivering on its goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States through a partnership with American private industry. This partnership is opening access to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station to more people, science, and commercial opportunities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in space exploration, including future missions to the Moon under Artemis, and ultimately, to Mars.
      For more information about the mission, visit:
      www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew
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      Faith McKie / Josh Finch
      Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1100
      faith.d.mckie@nasa.gov / joshua.a.finch@nasa.gov
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      The four CubeSate spacecraft that make up the Starling swarm have demonstrated success in autonomous operations, completing all key mission objectives. After ten months in orbit, the Starling spacecraft swarm successfully demonstrated its primary mission’s key objectives, representing significant achievements in the capability of swarm configurations. 
      Swarms of satellites may one day be used in deep space exploration. An autonomous network of spacecraft could self-navigate, manage scientific experiments, and execute maneuvers to respond to environmental changes without the burden of significant communications delays between the swarm and Earth. 
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      The Distributed Spacecraft Autonomy (DSA) experiment, flown onboard Starling, demonstrated the spacecraft swarm’s ability to optimize data collection across the swarm. The CubeSats analyzed Earth’s ionosphere by identifying interesting phenomena and reaching a consensus between each satellite on an approach for analysis.  
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      The experiment’s success means Starling is the first swarm to autonomously distribute information and operations data between spacecraft to generate plans to work more efficiently, and the first demonstration of a fully distributed onboard reasoning system capable of reacting quickly to changes in scientific observations. 
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      The team successfully completed all the MANET experiment objectives, including demonstrating routing commands and data to one of the spacecraft having trouble with space to ground communications, a valuable benefit of a cooperative spacecraft swarm. 
      “The success of MANET demonstrates the robustness of a swarm,” said Howard Cannon, Starling project manager at NASA Ames. “For example, when the radio went down on one swarm spacecraft, we ‘side-loaded’ the spacecraft from another direction, sending commands, software updates, and other vital information to the spacecraft from another swarm member.” 
      Autonomous Swarm Navigation 
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      Near the end of mission operations, the swarm was maneuvered into a passive safety ellipse, and in this formation, the StarFOX team was able to achieve a groundbreaking milestone, demonstrating the ability to autonomously estimate the swarm’s orbits using only inter-satellite measurements from the spacecraft star trackers. 
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      NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology program, based at Ames and within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), funds and manages the Starling mission. Blue Canyon Technologies designed and manufactured the spacecraft buses and is providing mission operations support. Rocket Lab USA, Inc. provided launch and integration services. Partners supporting Starling’s payload experiments have included Stanford University’s Space Rendezvous Lab in Stanford, California, York Space Systems (formerly Emergent Space Technologies) of Denver, Colorado, CesiumAstro of Austin, Texas, L3Harris Technologies, Inc., of Melbourne, Florida. Funding support for the DSA experiment was provided by NASA’s Game Changing Development program within STMD. Partners supporting Starling’s mission extension include SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, NASA’s Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) program, and the Department of Commerce. SpaceX manages the Starlink satellite constellation and the Collision Avoidance ground system.
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      Last Updated May 29, 2024 Related Terms
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