Published: Tue, November 05, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Boeing Conducts Key Test For Human Launches

Boeing Conducts Key Test For Human Launches

Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing successfully tested the primary launch abort system for the Starliner next-generation crew spacecraft at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range located in New Mexico today.

The capsule then was expected to arc over at the high point of its trajectory - 4,426 feet above the launch site - 19 seconds after liftoff. The crew capsule slowly descended into the desert under two parachutes.

Boeing has encountered a variety of technical hurdles and setbacks during Starliner development, putting the program well behind schedule. This program is about NASA working along with private American aerospace companies to launch American astronauts into the Low Earth Orbit and the International Space Station.

"We have tested with two good mains in qualification and that is acceptable for our landing sequence", said Landa.

Similar in size to the Orion, the Starliner can host a crew of up to seven astronauts, or five when space is also shared with cargo.

Boeing's pad abort test flight director, Alicia Evans, said the test showed that all of the systems Boeing tested independently can work together to fly astronauts. The company added that it does not expect any delays to the next major test on the horizon: a demonstration trip into orbit without crew on board.

While once considered to be in the lead in terms of conducting the first test flights, Boeing has slipped behind SpaceX - by at least two months. The goal is to end the agency's sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

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A pad abort test is a procedure meant to put through their paces the systems that should jettison the crewed capsule away from the launch pad in case of an emergency.

An artist's impression of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew capsule docking at the International Space Station.

Boeing says it had a successful pad abort test Monday of its astronaut capsule in New Mexico despite one of three parachutes not deploying.

The spacecraft flew almost a mile in just under 20 seconds before deploying its forward heat shield and parachutes.

During the test, the spacecraft will reach an altitude of just less than 1.5km.

The test used four launch abort engines (LAEs) and several orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters.

The spacecraft service module, which has a total of 52 engines including those created to give small directional changes in orbit, was not planned to and did not survive the test.

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