Published: Mon, December 23, 2019
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Trouble for Starliner's inaugural flight as burn maneouver fails

Trouble for Starliner's inaugural flight as burn maneouver fails

This is a key launch on the way to a crewed flight, but there isn't anyone on board this time. The spacecraft is expected to rendezvous and begin docking procedures with the International Space Station (ISS) at 13:27 UTC tomorrow.

The CST-100 Starliner was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop an Atlas V carrier rocket for its first unmanned test flight. It's also unclear how far this will push back the timeline of NASA's Commercial Crew program which, at this point, is a two-horse race between SpaceX and Boeing to deliver a crewed launch vehicle to NASA for trips to the ISS.

"Safe and stable is the important thing right now", Boeing spokeswoman Kelly Kaplan told reporters.

Expect some wonderful images this morning from the Cape as the ULA test launch with the Starliner capsule will be just about 30 minutes before sunrise. As such, NASA says it will not reach the ISS.

The Starliner that landed today will be refurbished for Boeings 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. After Starliner separated from the Atlas V rocket, it believed it was in a different segment of the mission than it really was.

It was supposed to be a historic day for Boeing, but the launch of its hyped-up Starliner spacecraft did not go exactly as planned.

About 15 minutes after launch, Starliner was scheduled to complete a 40-second orbital insertion burn that would have evened out its orbit to a circle, allowing it to meet up with the space station. The team likely collected about 85 to 90 percent of what they were looking for, Boeing's Jim Chilton said during a post-touchdown briefing. This story will be updated later Friday as NASA and Boeing provide additional information. One of their craft exploded last April during a test firing.

"It appears as though the mission elapse timing system had an error in it", Bridenstine said. But Bridenstine said by the time they signaled the vehicle, "it was a bit too late". "We are going to launch American astronauts, on American rockets, from American soil for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttles".

Like this: