The Starliner astronaut capsule from the aerospace company Boeing landed in the desert of the American state of New Mexico on Sunday at 7.58 a.m. local time. The capsule was launched on Friday, but shortly thereafter problems arose. It was therefore decided to reclaim the unmanned flight.
The capsule was en route to the international space station ISS to supply the astronauts there. The launch was successful, but already after half an hour it turned out that the Starliner was not in the right orbit due to an error in the timer. Employees at the Boeing control center tried to solve the problems, but came to the conclusion that it would no longer be possible to reach ISS.
Although the original mission had to be canceled, the Boeing team was happy that the landing was successful. The Starliner entered the atmosphere 25 times faster than the sound, which led to an enormous heat around the capsule.
Only 1,600 meters from the earth, the three parachutes of the capsule were opened, after which the landing was “a bull’s eye”, said a spokesperson for Boeing during the live stream of the landing.
— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) December 22, 2019
Boeing Starliner is a direct competitor of the Crew Dragon capsule from SpaceX and is part of the Commercial Crew program of the American space organization NASA.
With this program, NASA grants contracts for passenger and freight transport to and from the international space station ISS. NASA currently has to buy seats with Russian Soyuz capsules because the United States does not have the resources for manned space missions.
With Commercial Crew, NASA wants to encourage commercial parties to enable passenger transport to and from space, so that the US can bring Americans back into space.
A successful test flight was carried out in March with the Crew Dragon from SpaceX. The first manned flight must take place at the beginning of 2020. This should have happened before, but the capsule exploded during an emergency system test.