For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, FL – Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule landed in the New Mexico desert, Wednesday evening, May 19, concluding an ‘incredibly successful’ uncrewed test flight for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS) and back – paving the way to the first crewed flight with NASA astronauts aboard as soon as years end.
The Boeing Starliner human rated spacecraft safely touched down Wednesday at White Sands Space Harbor on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico after six days in space “completing the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station to help prove the system is ready to fly astronauts,” NASA officials sad.
About four hours after departing the space station, Starliner touched down onto its airbags at 6:49 EDT (4:49 p.m. MDT, 2249 GMT), wrapping up the OFT-2 test flight whose goal was to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable spacecraft and give NASA the long sought 2nd path on US commercial crew vehicle – following the earlier success of the SpaceX Crew Dragon which first launched NASA astronaut crews to the ISS in 2020.
Welcome home, #Starliner!
At 6:49pm ET, @BoeingSpace’s CST-100 #Starliner spacecraft landed in White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico. pic.twitter.com/HoaempIZwk
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 25, 2022
“It was a picture-perfect landing,” Steve Stich, NASA commercial crew program manager, said at a postlanding briefing.
“The systems performed great on the vehicle, and once we work through all the data, we’ll be ready to fly the crew on this vehicle.”
The landing followed a deorbit burn at 4:05 p.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.
“NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and our industry partner, Boeing, today took a major and successful step on the journey to enabling more human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station on American spacecraft from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement.
“The OFT-2 mission represents the power of collaboration, which allows us to innovate for the benefit of humanity and inspire the world through discovery. This golden era of spaceflight wouldn’t be possible without the thousands of individuals who persevered and poured their passion into this great achievement.”
Here are more NASA photos of Starliner’s touchdown in New Mexico:
Check out first images from the landing of @BoeingSpace CST-100 #Starliner spacecraft as part of the Orbital Flight Test 2 at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico! 📷https://t.co/sulsB282OS pic.twitter.com/8K54oD0oyJ
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) May 25, 2022
As part of the flight test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, NASA confirmed at a media briefing post landing briefing for reported Wednesday night that’s Boeing accomplished all planned test objectives, including:
- Starliner launch and normal trajectory to orbital insertion
- Launch of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V and dual-engine Centaur second stage
- Ascent abort emergency detection system validation
- Starliner separation from the Atlas V rocket
- Approach, rendezvous, and docking with International Space Station
- Starliner hatch opening and closing, astronaut ingress, and quiescent mode
- Crew habitability and internal interface evaluation
- Starliner undocking and departure from space station
- Starliner deorbit, and crew module separ
“I am incredibly proud of the dedication and perseverance shown by the NASA, Boeing and ULA team culminating in the successful completion of Starliner’s second Orbital Flight Test from start to finish,” said Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“Throughout this process, Starliner has provided a tremendous amount of valuable data, which we’re continuing to assess in our effort to bring the spacecraft online and fully operational for crew flights to the space station as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Landing took place 6 days after liftoff of the 17-story tall ULA Atlas V carrying the Boeing CST-100 Starliner on the critical OFT-2 mission for NASA as scheduled at dinnertime Thursday, May 19 at 6:54 p.m. EDT (2254 GMT) from seaside Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida during an instantaneous launch window.
Enjoy our Atlas V/Starliner launch, prelaunch and rocket rollout photos taken by the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright for Space UpClose.
Watch my video of the Atlas V/Starliner liftoff:
Video Caption: United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, at 6:54 p.m. ET, May 19, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. OFT-2 will serve as an end-mto-end test of the system’s capabilities. Remote video camera placed at pad 41. Credit: Ken Kremer/spaceupclose.com
Barely 24 hours after the stunning liftoff on a ULA Atlas V Thursday evening May 19, Boeing’s Starliner crew spacecraft successfully docked at the ISS for the first time ever Friday evening May 20 – on the long delayed uncrewed OFT-2 for NASA.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft successfully docked to the forward port of the space station’s Harmony module at 8:28 p.m. EDT, May 20, while soaring some 250 miles (400 km) over the Pacific Ocean.
The arrival of Starliner also marks another historic first as the first time two different U.S. commercial crew vehicles have been simultaneously dock at the ISS – namely Boeing Starliner from OFT-2 and SpaceX Crew Dragon from Crew-4.
NASA astronauts opened the hatch to Starliner on Saturday morning, May 21.
“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.
“With the completion of OFT-2, we will incorporate lessons learned and continue working to prepare for the crewed flight test and NASA certification. Thank you to the NASA and Boeing teammates who have put so much of themselves into Starliner
The long awaited Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is a demonstration test flight required to prove that the Boeing capsule can safely and successfully ferry NASA and partners astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the space station – following the failure of the original OFT-1 mission to dock at the ISS back in 2019 followed by a technical scrub of the OFT-2 mission last year that required some nine months of further repairs to the maneuvering thrusters.
The goal of next-generation Starliner spacecraft on the OFT-2 mission is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the crew-capable system as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
After Starliner successfully completes its mission and is certified the U.S. will achieve the long desired goal of the Commercial Crew Program of having two independent and dissimilar redundant spacecraft systems to ferry our astronauts to the ISS and back.
SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown 5 missions for NASA to the ISS over the past two years
If all goes well with OFT-2 Boeing could launch NASA astronauts on the next mission dubbed CFT or Crew Flight Test by years end.
Either two or three experienced NASA astronauts would fly aboard CFT and have been in training for years.
NASA will name the flight crew this summer following a review of all the data, hardware and software from OFT-2.
Watch Ken’s commentary about Starliner, NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA Crew-3, Crew 4 and SpaceX AX-1 missions and Starlink.
May 25/26: WFTV ABC Orlando featured my commentary about the successful ISS undocking and touchdown of Starliner on OFT-2 test flight
May 19/20: WFTV ABC Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my prelaunch and post launch commentary about the critical nature of the Boeing Starliner OFT-2 mission for NASA
May 11: WFTV ABC Orlando News featured my commentary & analysis about Boeing Starliner crew capsule targeting launch May 19 for long delayed OFT2 uncrewed test flight for NASA after completing FRR this afternoon. It must dock at ISS to be considered successful to enable follow-on NASA astronaut flights maybe by late 2022
Apr 29: WKMG CBS 6 with my commentary about the record setting Falcon 9 turnaround of 21 days since the Axiom-1 launch
Apr 22: Fox 35 Orlando features my analysis of the busy week ahead in space with weather delayed Earth return of AX-1 crew this weekend, launch of 4 NASA/ESA Crew-4 astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon NET Apr 26 & rollback of NASA SLS to VAB for repairs
Apr 20: WFTV ABC News Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX static fire and impact of weather induced delays to departure of Ax-1 and launch of Crew-4.
Apr 15/16 & Apr 12/13: WFTV ABC News Orlando and WKMG CBS 6 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS:
Apr 6: WFTV ABC 9 Orlando featured my comments about 1st fully private astronaut launch to ISS by SpaceX on AX-1 mission:https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/first-all-private-astronaut-mission-iss-set-liftoff-kennedy-space-center-this-week/FYE5QAT735BA7G42O6IVCJGB4Q/
Apr 4 & 5: WFTV ABC News Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, SpaceX Axiom-1, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3 & 4, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space 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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