Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule closed out a six-day unpiloted test flight Wednesday with undocking from the International Space Station, followed by return to Earth about four hours later. Undocking occurred at 2:36 p.m. EDT (1836 GMT), and the capsule parachuted to a successful landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico at 6:49 p.m. EDT (4:49 p.m. MDT; 2249 GMT).
Astronauts on the International Space Station floated into Boeing’s Starliner capsule Saturday, becoming the first people to enter the spacecraft in orbit less than a day after it docked at the orbiting research complex for the first time. The station astronauts will spend several days performing tests and unpacking cargo inside the Starliner spacecraft before it departs and returns to Earth on Wednesday.
Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule finally reached the International Space Station Friday night with a “nail-biting” rendezvous and docking, overcoming several technical glitches to accomplish a long-awaited objective for the spacecraft before NASA clears it to ferry astronauts to the research complex.
Members of NASA’s independent safety advisory panel on Thursday cautioned the space agency not to rush toward a crew test flight of Boeing’s troubled Starliner spacecraft. The safety advisors also said there are “obvious safety concerns” about SpaceX’s plan to launch the giant Starship rocket from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, the same facility used for astronaut missions to the International Space Station.
NASA officials cleared Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule for launch in a flight readiness review Wednesday, moving a step closer toward a critical unpiloted demonstration flight to attempt docking at the International Space Station and check off other test objectives left unaccomplished on a problem-plagued mission two-and-a-half years ago.