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.
Four astronauts closed out a nearly six-month expedition on the International Space Station with an undocking early Thursday on SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft, heading for splashdown about 24 hours later off the coast of Florida. Departure from the station occurred at 1:20 a.m. EDT (0520 GMT) Thursday, and the crew splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:43 a.m. EDT (0443 GMT) Friday.
SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft docked with the International Space Station at 7:37 p.m. EDT (2337 GMT) Wednesday, delivering four astronauts for a long-duration research mission. Astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, Samantha Cristoforetti, and Jessica Watkins launched early Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.