February 27, 2020

Photos: Boeing’s Starliner ends shortened mission with landing in New Mexico


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Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft parachuted to an airbag-cushioned landing in New Mexico on Dec. 22 to conclude an abbreviated two-day test orbital test flight that accomplished many objectives, but missed a planned rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station.

The human-rated crew capsule — flying without astronauts for its first trip into space — landed at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 7:58 a.m. EST (5:58 a.m. MST; 1258 GMT) on Dec. 22.

Boeing’s recovery team at White Sands approached the capsule after it landing, ensured it was not leaking any toxic fumes, and then opened the hatch to begin inspections of the ship’s pressurized crew cabin, where an instrumented test dummy named “Rosie” was strapped inside the cockpit.

The ship will be reused for a future mission with NASA astronauts Suni Williams, Josh Cassada and two international partner crew members. After the capsule’s landing Dec. 22, Williams named the spaceship “Calypso” in an ode to the ship used by French oceanographer and explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Boeing is building a separate vehicle for the first crewed Starliner test flight with Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA crewmates Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann.

The photos below show the Boeing recovery team readying for the Starliner’s predawn landing with spotlights at White Sands, followed by views of the capsule descending under parachutes, and images showing the spacecraft’s crew module and jettisoned heat shield after landing.

Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The main parachutes begin to deploy as the Boeing Starliner spacecraft lands in White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The Starliner spacecraft jettisons its base heat shield moments before landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is seen after landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Recovery team members from Boeing, NASA and the U.S. Army collect parachutes from the Starliner spacecraft after landing. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, named “Calypso,” seen after landing at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
An inflatable protective enclosure is installed around the Starliner spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Boeing test pilot and former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson speaks to recovery teams at White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke inspect the Starliner spacecraft after landing at White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The forward heat shield jettisoned from the Starliner crew capsule is seen at White Sands, New Mexico. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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