NASA Praises Boeing Starliner’s ‘Picture Perfect’ Return from ISS Visit

NASA Praises Boeing Starliner's 'Picture Perfect' Return from ISS Visit

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) “is officially a success,” reports’s the verdict that leaders at NASA and Boeing gave during a press briefing on Wednesday night (May 25), a few hours after the aerospace giant’s Starliner capsule returned to Earth to wrap up OFT-2, a crucial uncrewed demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Starliner touched down in the White Sands Missile Range, a U.S. Army facility in New Mexico, at 6:49 p.m EDT (2249 GMT) on Wednesday, hitting the desert dirt just 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) from its target landing point. Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, described the landing as “picture perfect” during Wednesday night’s briefing, saying that the test flight accomplished all of its mission objectives…. OFT-2 went smoothly from start to finish, though it did have a few minor hiccups. For example, two thrusters on Starliner’s service module failed during the orbital insertion burn, which occurred about 30 minutes after launch. And as Starliner approached the space station on Friday (May 20), an additional two thrusters needed to be shut down, this time in the capsule’s reaction control system. In both cases, backups for each system worked as they were designed to do, and neither issue substantially affected the mission. But Starliner’s thrusters will be a focus of several post-flight checks and tests in the near future. The Washington Post writes that on-the-ground engineers “won’t be able to examine the two main thrusters that cut out since they are housed in the spacecraft’s service module, which was jettisoned during the return.” (And during the flight, their article adds, “the spacecraft’s thermal control system, used to keep the spacecraft at the right temperature, also failed.”) But NASA’s Steve Stich tells that “Putting the vehicle through its paces on this flight is really the only way to prepare us for the crewed flight test. “Once we work through all the data, we’ll be ready to fly crew on this vehicle.”Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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