Monday, 27 January, 2020

Boeing Starliner Capsule 'Healthy', Orbit Stable, Sunday Landing Expected in New Mexico

Rosie the Astronaut is ready to fly with Boeing’s Starliner to Space Station United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket Arrive at Cape Canaveral Launch Pad
Terrell Bush | 23 December, 2019, 00:41

Boeings CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed the first land touchdown of a human-rated capsule in USA history Sunday at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the companys uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASAsCommercial Crew Program.

Images broadcast by NASA showed the spacecraft touching down safely in the dark after a descent slowed by three large parachutes.

While the view was stunning, the launch of Boeing's new Starliner capsule went off course after and won't dock with the International Space Station during its first test flight.

Boeing's Senior Vice President Jim Chilton told Space.com, "We ended up in a place in space we didn't expect to be".

The flight- carrying only a dummy- was meant to be a final dress rehearsal before a crewed flight.

Boeing and NASA held a press conference today to provide updates about the mission status after the unplanned mission timer incident on Friday.

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Things went awry for the Starliner after experiencing problems with the craft's mission clock, which was off-kilter and delayed timed-commands to set the capsule into the correct orbit.

The Starliner setback came as Boeing, whose shares dropped 1.6% Friday, sought an engineering and public relations victory in a year punctuated by a corporate crisis over the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes of that aircraft. Earlier this month, it announced plans to suspend production of the aircraft.

The US needs competition like this, Nasa chief Bridenstine said on Thursday, to drive down launch costs, boost innovation and open space up to more people.

Both Boeing and Nasa said that while the capsule had not reached the intended orbit it was in a stable position. The Starliner is scheduled to return to Earth on December 28 after delivering cargo to the ISS. "Being on the cusp of this huge moment in history is really exciting", he added. Upon re-entry, the capsule will face a speed 25 times faster than the speed of sound and its heat shield will have to somehow withstand 3,000-degree temperatures. It completed a similar test flight of its crew capsule in March.

This is a key launch on the way to a crewed flight, but there isn't anyone on board this time. It is expected to also be ready for launch next year.

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