The first test flight of the Us.S. Boeing manned spacecraft, the Starliner, failed to dock with the International Space Station as planned, but finally landed near the U.S. White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on the evening of the 22nd Beijing time, saving Boeing’s last face.
(Original title: Boeing’s “Starliner” is a surprise to NASA by returning early
But for the U.S., the development of the highly-anticipated Boeing Startrek and SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft has suffered setbacks, and U.S. astronauts’ journeys to the International Space Station are still subject to Russia.
According to the U.S. space website, as a new generation of U.S. manned spacecraft, “Starliner” on the 20th aboard the Atlas-5 rocket, began the first unmanned test flight. It was originally scheduled to dock with the International Space Station on the 21st, delivering about 270 kilograms of supplies and equipment to the station, and bringing back some research samples before returning to Earth on the 28th. But about an hour after the launch, NASA issued a statement saying that because of a software error, the spacecraft had consumed too much fuel in its flight and was unable to enter its intended orbit, and that it could not dock with the space station as planned and could only return to the station ahead of schedule.
“Starliner” opens parachute to return to the ground on the 22nd
The New York Times said Tuesday that the Starliner landed successfully in the desert sands of New Mexico. Reported that the “Starliner” manned module and service module as planned before entering the atmosphere, the wreckage of the service module fell into the Pacific Ocean, and the manned module with the help of giant parachutes and buffer air bags landed on the ground. For NASA, the pattern of landing a manned capsule on land is “quite rare,” the report said. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Mercury and Apollo programs of the United States, manned return capsules landed in the sea – after all, the water was better cushioned than the desert. Even SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, known for its technological radicalism, still uses the mode of landing in the sea. The report speculated that Boeing’s choice to land the Starliner on the ground may have been more for re-use reasons. According to the plan, the “starliner” can be reused up to 10 times, if the spacecraft lands in the sea, corrosive water shimtos may complicate the spacecraft’s maintenance.
The successful landing of the Starliner has given Boeing a final look at its first test flight as “partially successful.” Jim Chilton, Boeing’s senior vice president of space launch, said that throughout the flight, the Starliner’s propulsion, navigation and life support systems were operating as usual, with a test dummy equipped with complex sensors in the capsule, and that the data it collected during the flight would help assess the actual feelings of future astronauts. NASA and Boeing officials even insisted that if there were astronauts on board the flight, there would be a good chance to take over the spacecraft in manual mode and thus dock with the space station. In addition, the spacecraft successfully weathered the temperature of 1600 degrees Celsius during the 22nd landing, and the planned release of parachutes and cushioned air bags, proving the feasibility of the “Starliner” new landing method.
The shape of the “Starliner”
But whatever Boeing defends, the “partially successful” test flight still disappoints NASA. Since the u.S. space shuttle was fully retired in 2011, U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station have relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This sense of humanity is naturally unbearable for the United States, not to mention Russia’s constant increase in the price of “boat tickets” – more than $80 million for a single seat on the Soyuz spacecraft in 2018. To change this passive situation, NASA has signed contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to build manned Dragon and Starliner spacecraft. But “double insurance” didn’t work either, and they were supposed to make their manned maiden voyage by the end of 2018, and NASA had to pay more than 10 more Russian “ship tickets” because of multiple delays in the development of both companies.
Seeing that the manned “Dragon” spacecraft finally achieved its first unmanned test flight in March this year, successfully docked with the International Space Station and returned safely to the ground, but in April in april in the escape test of a serious explosion accident, “Dragon” spacecraft’s first manned flight was postponed to next year. “Starliner” not only the development progress behind the competitors more than half a year, but also the problem. The imperfect performance of the starliner’s first test flight will obviously also affect the pace of progress, and NASA says it is “too early to say whether the Starliner will be manned” for its next flight. So the u.S. astronauts rely on Russian spacecraft to travel to and from the space station for some time to come.