After 2.5 years of delays, the Boeing Starliner capsule successfully went into orbit and docked with the International Space Station. It was an important milestone for a company that was struggling to catch up with SpaceX. Therefore, Boeing decided to celebrate its achievement in an original way.
When the ISS crew opened the Starliner hatch, they found a surprise inside the spacecraft. Next to the seated Orbital Flight Test-2 test mannequin floated a plush toy depicting Jebediah Kerman, one of the four original “Kerbonauts” featured in the video game Kerbal Space Program (KSP). Jeb, as he is better known in the KSP community, served as an indicator of weightlessness during the flight.
@BoeingSpace #Starliner passenger – Kerbal@nasa @NASA_Astronauts @astro_kjell @Astro_FarmerBob @AstroSamantha @astro_watkins pic.twitter.com/G8ueD7qkhh
— Serg.Korsakov (@SergKorsakov) May 21, 2022
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took a small doll with him on his first flight into space. Since then, it has become a tradition for most space crews to take plush toys with them so that it is easy to keep track of when entry into the microgravity environment begins.
The seven-member Exp 67 crew gathers for a welcome ceremony in front of the hatch where the @BoeingSpace #Starliner docked on Friday evening. pic.twitter.com/AGfkAjWMbI
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) May 21, 2022
Boeing kept the toy’s presence on OFT-2 a secret until the spacecraft docked with the ISS. Jeb will spend the next few days with the ISS crew before being returned to the spacecraft for a return flight to Earth.
Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program is a computer game about designing and testing spacecraft of a wide variety of designs, and then sending them into orbit, training in orbital maneuvers and even performing interplanetary missions of a compact planetary system. Ease of development and ease of management allows attracting a young audience to science, engineering and space.
However, before they can make the first successful launch into orbit in the Kerbal Space Program, players will have to make a lot of mistakes – rockets will fall, break, fall apart under the influence of overloads and even explode. In a way, this is exactly what Boeing engineers had to do after the first test flight of the Starliner in 2019 failed due to a software problem, and the second was postponed due to an unexpected valve problem.
A company representative said that the Starliner engineering team chose Jeb as a mascot in part because of the science, technology, engineering and math lessons that KSP can teach players.
Earlier we showed how the ISS crew has fun with orbital adjustments.
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