NASA ‘thrilled’ with Boeing Starliner pad abort test

Starliner pad abort test
Two parachutes ease the descent of the Boeing-built CST-100 Starliner space taxi during an uncrewed pad abort test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. (NASA via YouTube)

Boeing cleared a key milestone for launching NASA astronauts on its CST-100 Starliner space taxi today by executing an end-to-end test of its rocket-powered launch abort system — a test that did what it needed to do even though one of the craft’s three parachutes didn’t open.

Data from the pad abort test at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will be fully analyzed in advance of an uncrewed Starliner mission to the International Space Station and back, currently scheduled for a Dec. 17 launch, Boeing and NASA said.

“Tests like this one are crucial to help us make sure the systems are as safe as possible,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said in a news release. “We are thrilled with the preliminary results, and now we have the job of really digging into the data and analyzing whether everything worked as we expected.”

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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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