Starliner makes history in redefined victory

Starliner makes history in redefined victory

Boeing screen grab from NASA TV coverage of Starliner OFT landing. Image Credit: NASA

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test concluded today (Sunday Dec. 22) when the Starliner capsule touched down at White Sands Missile Range. Launched Friday, the mission saw the first U.S.-built crew-rated capsule land on soil rather than splashing down in the ocean.

OFT’s “crew” a dummy named Rosie can be seen behind the worker in the foreground. Photo Credit: Boeing

After spending two days in a lower-than-planned (about 155 miles or 250 kilometers) orbit, the OFT spacecraft touched down at 5:48 a.m. MST (6:48 a.m. CST) at White Sands Space Harbor on the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Boeing had estimated landing would take place at 5:57 a.m. MST. Given that a timing discrepency kept the capsule from achieving its primary objective, flying to and docking with the International Space Station, this miniscule difference is somewhat ironic.

Boeing had to make due with completing secondary objectives and the OFT mission ended five days earlier than planned. Under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, NASA paid Boeing an additional $1.6 to Boeing than it did to SpaceX. Despite the extreme disparity in funding, SpaceX successfully reach the International Space Station nine months ago. It is unclear when Boeing will try again – or how much more it will cost the U.S. taxpayer.

In a statement released just after the spacecraft and its occupant, a dummy named “Rosie” touched down representatives with the company focused on what went right. This included the vehicle’s landing systems, primarily its parachutes and airbags.

“The Starliner team’s quick recovery and ability to achieve many mission objectives – including safe deorbit, re-entry and landing – is a testament to the people of Boeing who have dedicated years of their lives working toward the achievement of commercial human spaceflight,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Their professionalism and collaboration with our NASA customer in challenging conditions allowed us to make the most of this mission.”

Boeing posted some screen grabs from NASA TV to highlight the mission’s return.

Video courtesy of NASA


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I am glad to see the spacecraft was recovered and back on the ground. However, the claiming of victory while falling short of the main mission objective looks like someone is trying to save face. Boeing has had plenty of resources available to get this right but recently we have seen problems and yet we hear nothing but praise and victory from them. I would have like to seen the ship not malfunction and actually dock at the ISS meeting
ALL of the mission parameters before they tell us how great they are. I guess we will see the political wheels turning as they push for either more money or attempt a manned mission without making sure they can successfully dock.

Remains to be seen if Boeing will find some way to get more money from NASA to fix whatever it was that caused this unfortunate maiden voyage anomaly that was , in fact, no more than 49 percent of anything resembling a ” victory “.
Pity the poor Boeing PR Department elves who had to work overtime to apply as much lipstick, rouge, and eyeliner to this Flying Pig , redefining victory using cosmetics instead of aeronautics.
As I write thjis on Monday morning it was announced that Boeing has fired its CEO Dennis Muilenburg . More heads should roll. I am tired of Boeing jacking the government and fleecing the taxpayer as they have for decades. No more

This reads like a soviet press statement not like journalism. The mission was a failure and no amount of spin will change that. The only silver lining is that if humans were on board they likely would have survived. I say likely because when your spacecraft starts acting erratically sometimes the humans on board do too.

R. R, I agree that SFI has remained objective and unbiased. My references were to NASA and Boeing. There are other space companies that own their mistake, take it on the chin, learn from them and move on. A reusable orbital class booster had a fair share of problems and they demonstrated resilience to learn and finally succeed. And I am positive that the learning process (mistakes) are not done by a long shot. The glass is breakable. I respect honesty rather than flowery rhetoric.

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