For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – The first Boeing Starliner commercial crew capsule to launch and reach orbit landed safely this morning Sunday, Dec 22, at 7:58 a.m. ET at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico after an abbreviated 2 day mission cut short by a timing failure that sent the ship into the wrong orbit and unable to dock at the International Space Station (ISS).
The touchdown marks the 1st time an American-made, human-rated capsule has landed on land and it was a bullseye landing!
The #Starliner spacecraft safely touched down at 7:58am ET at @WSMissileRange in New Mexico with a bulleye landing. This marks the 1st time an American-made, human-rated capsule has landed on land. Watch our live coverage: https://t.co/MAYPLDF7R7 pic.twitter.com/66owuQDsVB
— NASA (@NASA) December 22, 2019
Shortly after the historic maiden liftoff of Boeing’s Starliner astronaut space taxi on Dec. 20 on a fully successful ride to space aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket at sunrise Friday from the Florida Space Coast, the commercial capsule suffered a serious mishap that sent it into the wrong orbit when the ships thrusters fired far too long and expended so much fuel that the primary goal of safely accomplishing a critical docking to the International Space Station (ISS) was scrubbed.
Here is the NASA Press release for now until my story is ready:
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed the first land touchdown of a human-rated capsule in U.S. history Sunday at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Starliner settled gently onto its airbags at 7:58 a.m. EST (5:58 a.m. MST) in a pre-dawn landing that helps set the stage for future crewed landings at the same site. The landing followed a deorbit burn at 7:23 a.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.
“Congratulations to the NASA and Boeing teams on a bullseye landing of the Starliner. The hardest parts of this orbital flight test were successful,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is why we conduct these tests, to learn and improve our systems. The information gained from this first mission of Starliner will be critical in our efforts to strengthen NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and return America’s human spaceflight capability.”
Although Starliner did not reach its planned orbit and dock to the International Space Station as planned, Boeing was able to complete a number of test objectives during the flight related to NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, including:
• Successful launch of the first human-rated United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket
• Checked out the Starliner propulsion systems
• Tested space-to-space communications
• Confirmed Starliner tracker alignments using its navigation system
• Tested Starliner’s NASA Docking System
• Validated all environment control and life support systems
• Completed a positive command uplink between the International Space Station and Starliner
“Today’s successful landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is a testament to the women and men who have dedicated themselves to ensuring Starliner can safely transport crews to low-Earth orbit and back to Earth,” said Boeing Senior Vice President of Space and Launch Jim Chilton. “The Starliner Orbital Flight Test has and will continue to provide incredibly valuable data that we, along with the NASA team, will use to support future Starliner missions launched from and returning to American soil.”
“This mission has only strengthened the resolve of the NASA, ULA, and Boeing teams,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard. “Systems were tested, but more importantly the teams were tested. The hardest parts of this mission were a tremendous success. The Commercial Crew Program is strong. But keep in mind, this is a great reminder that human exploration is not for the faint of heart. We are just getting started!”
The Starliner that landed today will be refurbished for Boeing’s first operational crewed mission, following the Crew Flight Test. NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will fly on that mission, dubbed the spacecraft “Calypso” after the ship of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau.
“I love what the ocean means to this planet,” said Williams. “We would not be this planet without the ocean. There’s so much to discover in the ocean, and there’s so much to discover in space.”
The uncrewed Starliner spacecraft launched on the ULA Atlas V rocket at 6:36 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:
The Atlas V rocket that carries Starliner to orbit comprises a ULA built 1st stage booster powered by a Russian-made RD-180 main engine, a dual-engine Centaur upper stage, as well as a pair of Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ-60 strap-on first stage solid rocket boosters.
This marks a new configuration for the Atlas V designated as “N22” because these is no payload fairing surrounding the Starliner and includes the dual engine Centuar upper stage with two Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 engines and two strap-on boosters.
The Atlas 5’s Russian-made RD-180 main engine and two Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket boosters will power the launcher off the pad. A dual-engine Centaur upper stage will power the Starliner into space and deploy the capsule on a preliminary suborbital trajectory. The capsule’s own thrusters will fire about a half-hour after liftoff to reach a stable orbit and begin its pursuit of the station.
With Starliner the complete Atlas V rocket stack stands 172 feet (52.4 meters) tall and will weigh 979,223 pounds when fully fueled for liftoff.
The ULA Atlas V rocket generates about 1.6 million pounds of liftoff thrust at launch and enjoys a 100% success record since 2002.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of the upcoming Starliner OFT mission & recent SpaceX JCSAT launch at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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