Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has successfully passed a key test

It is a capsule developed by Boeing in collaboration with NASA

by Faruk Imamovic
Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has successfully passed a key test

After spending just under a week on the International Space Station, Boeing’s new passenger spacecraft CST-100 Starliner returned to Earth and landed intact using parachutes and airbags in the New Mexico desert. The successful landing of the Starliner marked the end of a crucial test that proved its ability to launch into space, merge with the ISS and return home safely.

It is a capsule developed by Boeing in collaboration with NASA, but before the U.S. space agency began using Starliner to transport its crew, it was crucial that the capsule prove it can make its way to the ISS and back to Earth.

This is exactly what was achieved by drone and landing, so Starliner took all the big steps that were necessary. The capsule was launched into orbit on May 19 by the Atlas V rocket, merged with the ISS on May 20, and has now returned to Earth.

However, there have been some problems with thrusters, small engines used to maneuver and move through space. However, none of these problems were fatal to the flight and Starliner eventually successfully passed the OFT-2 test.

A previous test conducted in December 2019 was also unsuccessful without a crew.

The Starliner had a software problem that improperly activated the thrusters after separating from the rocket so the spacecraft ended up in the wrong orbit.

As a result, Starliner did not reach the ISS, and as a result, no connection to the station was demonstrated. The capsule was returned to Earth earlier. Another attempt was planned over the past summer, but a few hours before takeoff, the test was suspended due to problems with fuel valves that did not open properly.

That problem has now been solved, and Starliner has proven that it can transport people to the ISS and bring them home safely. During the period in which the capsule was connected to the ISS, astronauts removed the cargo from it and sent back others including the robot Rosie the Rocketeer, which served to simulate the journey of a man in the capsule.

In the coming months, Boeing will analyze the problems that have occurred to be resolved, followed by preparations for a new CFT test flight involving the crew. That flight could happen by the end of the year. SpaceX has already sent a crew to the ISS using its CrewDragon capsule.