OFT-1 was the first failed unmanned mission to reach to the ISS, safely dock and undock then land on Earth). Finally OFT-2 (Orbital Flight Test-2) was ongoing. The Starliner spacecraft was launched atop an Atlas-V rocket and successfully reached orbit on the 19th May 2022. I was super excited about it! Not only because I finally wanted them to succeed. Or US to have 2 vehicles simultaneously being able to take people and cargo to the International Space Station (redundancy). But as an ISS photographer I also wanted to photograph the event.
20th May 2022
1st flyby of Starliner
Shortly after launch I saw ISS and a fainter object a few degrees right behind it. That was the newly launched Starliner spacecraft. There was no chance to squeeze them into on field of view (yet), so I only used my Sony A7S. Here is my first video of ISS and Starliner.
2nd flyby of Starliner
Second flyby though looked much more promising. I listened to live Nasa coverage as Starliner was approaching ISS. It was the coolest feeling! When I first saw ISS rising, astronauts had to maneuver Starliner back to a 200m distance from the station. I listened to the chatter whilst starting recording to photograph the ISS. There was only one source of light, the two objects by now looked as one. So I didin’t know wether Starliner and ISS will be in one field of view or not. I followed my usual imaging method and I was hoping for the very best outcome.
When I opened up the video and saw the first frames, I knew straight away it was a successful imaging session.
I also made a summary video using my and other amateur’s photos about this unique event. Luckily many other saw and photographed the event.
25th May 2022
Starliner remained docked to ISS for a few days and eventually undocked from the station. Only a few hours before Starliner reentered Earth’s atmosphere I had a good ISS flyby. Here is a video farewell to Starliner on OFT-2 mission. T
he spacecraft later successfully landed in the New Mexico desert.
Skywatcher 250/1200 dobsonian telescope
Zwo ASI224MC colour camera
TeleVue 2.5x powermate