Boeing's space capsule Starliner, unmanned aboard, landed safely today in a desert in the western United States after failing to dock with the International Space Station (ERA), AFP reports.
The mission's partial failure is a setback for the aerospace giant, whose reputation is tarnished by two 737 MAX aircraft crashes this year in which more than 300 people died, and NASA, which relies on this vehicle to ship. their astronauts in 2020 to the ISS
The CST-100 Starliner capsule landed early in the morning at White Sands Base at 5:58 pm local time (12:58 pm in Lisbon), with its live return on Earth, and the device was slowed by three large parachutes and the landing cushioned by airbags.
"The vehicle appears to be in fantastic condition," the recovery teams reported, according to Boeing's Steve Siceloff.
The capsule was launched Friday in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the Atlantic coast, by the Atlas V rocket built by the United Launch Alliance.
Shortly after the rocket split, Starliner did not activate the thrusters as it should, and therefore was not placed in the correct path to gain altitude and reach the ISS, which is in orbit at 400 kilometers altitude.
If the test had gone as expected, the CST-100 Starliner capsule, which did not carry astronauts, would spend next week at the ISS as part of the rehearsal for the crew flight scheduled for next year.
However, the capsule ended up in the wrong orbit shortly after its launch on Friday, and Boeing and the US space agency NASA decided to return it to Earth as soon as possible.
According to NASA Director Jim Bridenstine, an anomaly occurred in the spacecraft's countdown system, causing the onboard computer to "think" that it had already made the necessary maneuvers to get into orbit.
“The capsule consumed more fuel than anticipated to stay controlled. That made meeting with the space station impossible, ”said the NASA director.
The seemingly successful return could lead NASA to decide to stick to the schedule for Starliner's first manned flight in early 2020, with Boeing test astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke.
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