Boeing’s Starliner passenger spacecraft has successfully returned to Earth.
The uncrewed capsule landed at the US Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at the end of a six-day mission to the International Space Station.
Today’s parachute landing marks third time lucky for the Starliner program, which has been marked by delays, equipment malfunctions, and software glitches that have resulted in an emergency landing and an aborted launch. Because these problems could have affected the craft at every step of its test flight, three was an air of suspense right up to touchdown in the New Mexico desert.
A day later, the CST-100 Starliner autonomously rendezvoused and docked with the space lab and the station crew opened the hatch.
According to Boeing, the Starliner flight not only demonstrated the ability of the company to carry out a complete mission from launch to recovery, but also tested the spacecraft’s avionics system, docking system, communications and telemetry systems, environmental control systems, solar arrays, electrical power systems, and propulsion systems.
“We have had an excellent flight test of a complex system that we expected to learn from along the way and we have,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program.
“Thank you to the NASA and Boeing teammates who have put so much of themselves into Starliner.”
“With the completion of OFT-2, we will incorporate lessons learned and continue working to prepare for the crewed flight test and NASA certification”