Boeing’s new manned spacecraft, the CST-100 Starliner, made its first unmanned test flight Friday morning local time, but it will not reach the International Space Station as planned because it entered the wrong orbit,media CNET reported. SpaceX founder Elon Musk knows the enormity of the task. He sent a message of encouragement to NASA and Boeing on Friday.
“It’s hard to get into orbit accurately,” Musk wrote. Best wishes for the landing and quick recovery for the next mission. “
NASA astronauts have been flying to the International Space Station on Aer of Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft since the end of the space shuttle era in 2011, but Soyuz seats are expensive. So the space agency aims to launch manned spacecraft from the U.S. mainland using a commercial manned flight program, which SpaceX and Boeing are part of.
SpaceX successfully conducted its first unmanned launch test of a manned Dragon spacecraft earlier this year. Boeing hopes to match SpaceX’s achievements, but a failure caused Starliner to consume too much fuel. Starliner will not be able to dock with the International Space Station, but will return to Earth as soon as possible.
It’s unclear how Starliner’s troubles will affect Boeing’s and NASA’s plans to send astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX is currently conducting safety tests of its manned Dragon spacecraft system, with a view to the next manned flight.