NASA and Boeing landed the CST-100 Starliner in New Mexico on Wednesday.
The landing marked the completion of the spacecraft’s unmanned orbital flight test (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS).
The capsule parachuted to Earth about four hours after leaving the orbiting laboratory.
NASA said the Boeing Starliner mission was a “critical step in validating the performance of Boeing’s systems” and that OFT-2 “significantly brings the nation closer to having two unique human transportation systems to transport astronauts to and from the space station from the U.S. ground.”
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Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already the established leader, launching astronauts – and tourists – into space since 2020.
“NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and our industry partner, Boeing, today achieved a major and successful milestone in the process to enable more human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station on U.S. spacecraft. from American soil,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
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“The OFT-2 mission represents the power of collaboration, which allows us to innovate for the benefit of humanity and to inspire the world through discovery. This golden age of spaceflight would not be possible without the thousands individuals who persevered and poured their passion into this great achievement,” he added.
“I am incredibly proud of the dedication and perseverance shown by the teams at NASA, Boeing and ULA, which resulted in the successful completion of Starliner’s second orbital flight test from start to finish,” said Steve Stich, NASA commercial crew program manager. statement. “Throughout this process, Starliner has provided an enormous amount of valuable data, which we continue to evaluate in our efforts to bring the spacecraft online and fully operational for crew flights to the space station as soon as possible. he will be sure to do so.”
The flight test began on May 19. Starliner was launched on the ULA Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida. It docked with the ISS on Friday, after which the astronauts tested Starliner’s communications and computer systems and downloaded supplies.
Boeing abandoned its first attempt to reach the space station in 2019 after software errors. The problem was solved last summer, but corroded valves blocked a second attempt.
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After NASA and Boeing review data from this test flight, teams will continue with plans for Starliner and its next mission, the Crew Flight Test to the space station.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.