ReutersDec 23, 2019 08:01:43 IST
Boeing Co’s Starliner astronaut spacecraft made a "bull’s-eye" landing in the New Mexico desert on Sunday, a successful ending to a crewless test mission that two days earlier failed to reach the orbit needed to dock with the International Space Station.
The 7.58 am ET (6.28 pm IST) landing at the White Sands desert capped a turbulent 48 hours for Boeing’s botched milestone test of an astronaut capsule that is designed to help NASA regain its human spaceflight capabilities.
A software problem on Friday caused the capsule to fail to attain the orbit needed to rendezvous with the space station, another unwelcome engineering black eye for Boeing in a year that has seen corporate crisis over the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes of the aircraft.
Officials from the aerospace company and NASA breathed sighs of relief following the landing, a highly challenging feat.
"Today it couldn’t really have gone any better," Boeing space chief executive Jim Chilton told reporters on Sunday, adding that experts would need weeks to analyze the data from this mission before determining if Boeing could move forward with its plan to send a crewed mission on the craft in 2020.
The landing, which tested the capsule’s difficult reentry into the atmosphere and parachute deployment, will yield the mission’s most valuable test data after it failed to meet one of its core objectives of docking to the space station.
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