An unpiloted demonstration flight of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule ended prematurely Sunday with a smooth airbag-cushioned predawn landing in New Mexico after a timing glitch prevented it from docking with the International Space Station, leaving some test objectives incomplete as NASA begins analyzing data to determine if astronauts should fly on the next Starliner mission.
A day after a timing error caused it to enter the wrong orbit and miss its objective of meeting up with the International Space Station, Boeing’s unpiloted Starliner crew capsule prepared for its next major test Sunday, when it will plunge back into the atmosphere and target a predawn landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico.
Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule flew into the wrong orbit soon after lifting off from Cape Canaveral on an unpiloted demonstration flight Friday morning, burning too much fuel and precluding the new commercial spaceship from docking with the International Space Station. Mission managers say the capsule will target an early landing in New Mexico Sunday.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is set to carry Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule into space on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station. This timeline shows the major mission events planned from liftoff through Starliner’s orbital insertion burn about 31 minutes after launch.
The 81st flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, set for liftoff Friday from Cape Canaveral, will come with its share of firsts when it sends Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule toward the International Space Station on an unpiloted test flight. The launcher will fly without a payload shroud, which typically envelopes satellites during liftoff, and it will debut an uprated dual-engine Centaur upper stage that will power the Starliner on a unique suborbital trajectory optimized for astronaut comfort.