Boeing’s contribution to NASA’s crewed spaceflight endeavours entered orbit on Friday following the successful launch of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, a mission elapsed time error caused the computers on the craft to initiate procedures ahead of time.
It meant that the crucial phase of the test flight, docking at the International Space Station – something currently only Russia can achieve – would not be possible. However, after all manner of careful and speedy decision making meetings, tests were successfully carried out on the docking arm and the capsule was brought back to Earth on Sunday night Australian time after 2 days 1 hour and 21 minutes in flight.
This capsule will be refurbished and slated for the first operational mission, now tentatively booked for sometime in 2020.
The success of Starliner is crucial to enable NASA to launch it’s astronauts from it’s own facilities instead of hiring a seat on Russia’s Soyuz capsule. Brad and Matt discussed this test flight in the season final of Talkin’ Science last week.