The Boeing Starliner has landed, but after an imperfect mission, questions remain

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft landed in the White Sands Missile Range space port on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 in New Mexico.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft crashed safely in White Sands Missile Range Space Harbor.
Photo:: NASA / Bill Ingals

The Boeing Starliner successfully landed on the sandy surface of the New Mexico desert yesterday, marking the end of the first unmanned spacecraft to the end of the test. It was a perfect landing, but the six-day mission was not without its problems.

It: CST-100 Starliner spacecraft landed Wednesday at 4:49 p.m. (6:49 pm EDT) local time at White Sands Missile Range Space Harbor after spending six days in low Earth orbit. The spacecraft has left With a payload of more than 600 pounds (270 kilograms) from the space station, including three spent nitrogen reusable oxygen tanks that provided breathing air to the ISS crew.

Four hours after unloading from the orbital outpost, the Starliner deployed three parachutes and six airbags to help it land smoothly. The team will now take the car back to the company’s facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for development.

The test flight is part of Boeing $ 4.3 billion contract with NASA Commercial staff program provide routes for its astronauts to return to the ISS:. But Boeing fell behind in delivering a viable spacecraft after two previous failed tests. one in 2019 և: one last year. At the same time, its trading partner SpaceX (which has been awarded a $ 2.6 billion contract by NASA) Astronauts lowering ISS for the last two years.

The end of this pilot flight, called the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will take a long time, but it is already clear that there were some problems during the mission.

The Starliner CST-100 spacecraft was launched on May 19 from the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. About 30 minutes after ascent, One of the 12 actuators responsible for orbital failure has failedfollowed by a spare engine failure, according to Steve Sitch, NASA’s Commercial Staff Program Manager. explained at the press conference held after the start. During the mission, a problem soon arose with the equipment that kept the Starliner cold.

When it came time to rendezvous with the ISS, a ring responsible for latching onto the station failed to deploy in the correct manner, causing Starliner to miss its scheduled contact time by over an hour, according to AFP. Immediately after being touched, the rescue team found hydrazine vapor, a flammable oily liquid that is dangerous to breathe, around the spacecraft. This long-lasting chemical, which forced the recovery team to temporarily withdraw, may not have burned the Starliner with its entire engine, Stitch said during a briefing. He added that no leak was found.

Despite these problems, the mission team still seemed optimistic. “We have some things to work on, but I do not really see any protesters,” Stitch told reporters at the briefing. NASA և Boeing will now carefully analyze և study mission data, which will inform the following steps. Assuming the problems with OFT-2 are as minor as Stitch presents them, a pilot flight with Starliner crew may take place later this year.

In its short time in the low orbit of the Earth, Starliner was attended by ISS crew members who gave: video tour on the spacecraft when it was attached. The crew was even able to meet Rosie the Rocketeer, a test mannequin equipped with 15 sensors to convey how the astronauts would feel during the voyage. Whether or not Rose had much to say, NASA astronaut Robert Hines pointed to the commander’s mannequin, saying, “he’s having a great view from his window.”

Let’s hope Boeing solves Starliner’s problems before the spacecraft transports real astronauts, not just Rosie.

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