Boeing reports successful Starliner test

Starliner propulsion test
Starliner’s test service module ignites its launch abort engines and orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters in a low-altitude abort mode test. (Boeing Photo)

Boeing has successfully run the propulsion system for its CST-100 Starliner space taxi through the same test it failed almost a year ago, marking a significant step toward carrying astronauts to the International Space Station.

The thruster firing for Starliner’s launch abort system was part of a series of tests conducted on May 23 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. A similar test went awry last June, due to an unwanted leak of propellant. No hardware was destroyed, but the problem contributed to delays for Starliner’s first flight.

The current schedule calls for the capsule to be launched on an uncrewed flight to the space station in the August time frame, and for the first crewed flight to take place by the end of the year. Starliner is designed to be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. (ULA is a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.)

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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