Boeing Co’s Starliner astronaut spacecraft landed in the New Mexico desert on Sunday, the company said, after faulty software forced officials to cut short an unmanned mission aimed at taking it to the International Space Station.
The landing at 7:58 a.m. ET (1258 GMT) in the White Sands desert capped a turbulent 48 hours for Boeing’s botched milestone test of an astronaut capsule that is designed to help NASA regain its human spaceflight capabilities.
“We hit the bull’s-eye,” a Boeing spokesman said on a livestream of the landing.
The landing will yield the mission’s most valuable test data after failing to meet its core objective of docking to the space station.
After Starliner’s touchdown, teams of engineers in trucks raced to inspect the vehicle, whose six airbags cushioned its impact on the desert surface as planned, a live video feed showed.
The spacecraft was in an apparently stable condition after landing, according to images posted by officials from the U.S. space agency NASA.
The CST-100 Starliner’s debut launch to orbit was a milestone test for Boeing. The company is vying with SpaceX, the privately held rocket company of billionaire high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, to revive NASA’s human spaceflight capabilities. SpaceX carried out a successful unmanned flight of its Crew Dragon capsule to the space station in March.
The Starliner capsule was successfully launched from Florida on Friday, but an automated timer error prevented it from attaining the right orbit to meet and dock with the space station. That failure came as Boeing sought an engineering and public relations victory in a year that has seen corporate crisis over
the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner following two fatal crashes of the aircraft. The company’s shares dropped 1.6% on Friday.
Ahead of Sunday’s landing, Starliner’s three main parachutes deployed just over one mile (1,600 metres) from the Earth’s surface after enduring intense heat from the violent reentry through the atmosphere, plummeting at 25 times the speed of sound.
The parachute deployment, one of the most challenging procedures under the program to develop a commercial manned space capsule, earned Boeing a fresh win after a previous mishap where one parachute failed to deploy during a November test of Starliner’s abort thrusters.
That test tossed the capsule miles into the sky to demonstrate its ability to land a crew safely back on the ground in the event of a launch failure.
For the current mission, Boeing and NASA officials said they still do not understand why software caused the craft to miss the orbit required.
Sunday’s landing marked the first time a U.S. orbital space capsule designed for humans landed on land.
All past U.S. capsules, including SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, splashed down in the ocean. Russia’s Soyuz capsules and China’s past crew capsules made land landings.
Credit : Voice of America (VOA)
ISS moves to avoid space debris – Space Daily
Astronauts on the International Space Station carried out an “avoidance maneuver” Tuesday to ensure they would not be hit by a piece of debris, said US space agency NASA, urging better management of objects in Earth’s orbit.
Russian and US flight controllers worked together during a two-and-a-half-minute operation to adjust the station’s orbit and move further away, avoiding collision.
The debris passed within about 1.4 kilometers (nearly one mile) of the ISS, NASA said.
The three crew members — two Russians and an American — relocated to be near their Soyuz spacecraft as the maneuver began so they could evacuate if necessary, NASA said, adding that the precaution was taken “out of an abundance of caution.”
The astronauts were able to return to their normal activities after the procedure, according to NASA.
“Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter.
The threatening scrap was actually a piece of a 2018 Japanese rocket, astronomer Jonathan McDowell said on Twitter. The rocket broke up into 77 different pieces last year.
The ISS usually orbits roughly 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Earth, at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour.
At such a velocity, even a small object could seriously damage a solar panel or other facet of the station.
This type of maneuver is necessary on a regular basis. NASA said 25 such maneuvers had occurred between 1999 and 2018.
Bridenstine wrote on Twitter that this was the third such maneuver on the ISS just this year.
The operations could become even more frequent as Earth’s orbit becomes littered with pieces of satellites, rockets and other objects launched into space over the last sixty years.
Accidental or deliberate collisions, including anti-satellite missile launches by India in 2019 and China in 2007, can break objects apart even further and create added risk.
“Debris is getting worse! Time for Congress to provide @CommerceGov with the $15 mil requested by @POTUS for the Office of Space Commerce,” Bridenstine tweeted.
The Office of Space Commerce is a civilian organization that supporters want to take over the surveillance of space junk, a job currently occupied by the military.
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Small leak of ammonia detected at US Segment of ISS
Moscow (Sputnik) Sep 18, 2020
A small leak of ammonia has been detected at the US segment of the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos confirmed to Sputnik, adding that the incident poses no threat to crew members.
Ammonia is used in transferring heat from the US segment on the ISS to space. Moderate levels of ammonia are not so dangerous, but exposure to high concentrations of it can be a health hazard.
“Experts have registered an ammonia leak outside the US segment of the ISS. We are speaking about the leak with … read more
'Unknown' Space Debris Prompts ISS Crew to Prepare for Avoidance Maneuver – Sputnik International
Flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, along with the US Space Command, successfully avoided a collision with a piece of space debris that passed within several kilometers of the International Space Station (ISS).
According to NASA, an avoidance maneuver took place using the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft while astronauts aboard the ISS take shelter inside their Soyuz spacecraft.
“Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris,” NASA said in a post.
Due to safety concerns, three Expedition 63 crew members moved to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft. However, no crew members were in danger at any point in time.
“Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities,” NASA confirmed.
Last week, a small ammonia leak was detected in the US segment of ISS. However, the incident posed no threat to crew members.
“Experts have registered an ammonia leak outside the US segment of the ISS. We are speaking about the leak with the speed of some 700 grams [1.5 pounds] per year. But there is no threat to the ISS crew,” a Roscosmos source told Sputnik.
ISS to adjust orbit to avoid unidentified space object, says source – TASS
MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. The orbit of the International Space Station (ISS) will be adjusted in the small hours of Wednesday to avoid collision with an unidentified object, a source in the Mission Control Center told TASS on Tuesday.
“The ISS is expected to approach an unidentified space object at 01:21 Moscow time on September 23. It is planned to perform an avoidance maneuver at 00:19 Moscow time,” the source said.
The source said that according to Russia’s and US’s calculations, the ISS is currently in flying in the so-called red zone and the collision is highly probable. “That is why the avoidance maneuver is necessary,” the source stressed, adding that the nothing is currently knows about the space object, as it is not no the space catalogues.
Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos earlier planned to adjust the ISS’ orbit to avoid possible collision with the BRICSat-2 US satellite. However, it was decided later that this maneuver was unnecessary.
The current ISS crew comprises NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
ISS moves to avoid space debris – Space Daily
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