They actually pulled it off.
American defense contractor Boeing finally did it.
Despite a two-year delay and tons of troubleshooting in the interim, the manufacturer's Starliner "space taxi" finally docked to the International Space Station last night. There were no crew aboard, but it did deliver about 800 pounds of cargo and important supplies to the astronauts on board the ISS.
NASA posted footage of Starliner docking to the ISS yesterday and encouraged curious fans to watch live as ISS crew opened its hatch and began working procedures.
The @BoeingSpace #Starliner that just arrived at the @Space_Station on a test flight is carrying over 500 lbs (227 kg) of cargo & crew supplies.
Watch live on Sat., May 21 starting at 11:30am ET (15:30 UTC) as astronauts open the spacecraft's hatch: https://t.co/a6c1WZaQAJ pic.twitter.com/cJFeCAnwvo
— NASA (@NASA) May 21, 2022
Photos taken from the live stream and posted by a CBS space journalist show three smiling Russian cosmonauts joined by NASA astronauts gathered together at the welcome ceremony for the new arrival. Despite the ongoing tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the United States, the crew seemed pretty happy to get their hands on the stuff Starliner ferried to them.
Other shots show crew opening the hatch and drifting weightlessly into the craft, which also seems to sport a dummy astronaut buckled into its seat and wearing a full spacesuit.
A5/OFT-2: The hatch to Starliner is now open; Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines are now inside, working through procedures pic.twitter.com/rHPpZ7SBLs
— William Harwood (@cbs_spacenews) May 21, 2022
It could just be an extra outfit for someone on the ISS, but it's also possible Boeing is collecting data about its eventual crew launch aboard the vehicle. The company has been trying to compete with Elon Musk's SpaceX for a while, and it's probably jonesing to catch up pretty hard right about now.
Seeing the space race between the companies play out will definitely be something to watch.
More on the long journey for Boeing: Boeing Reportedly Melting Down Over Disastrous Spacecraft