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The Boeing Starliner has landed safely back on Earth after failing to reach orbit. The event marked the first land touchdown of a human-rated capsule in U.S. history.
RELATED: MISSION FAILED: BOEING'S STARLINER ROCKET DOESN'T MAKE IT TO INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
A bullseye landing
“Congratulations to the NASA and Boeing teams on a bullseye landing of the Starliner. The hardest parts of this orbital flight test were successful,” said in a statement NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Today, @BoeingSpace’s #Starliner spacecraft safely returned to Earth with a bullseye landing. Although the spacecraft didn’t reach its intended orbit and dock to the @Space_Station, it did complete many test objectives for our @Commercial_Crew program: https://t.co/1jWkMI5oA6pic.twitter.com/SEm2iKUviR— NASA (@NASA) December 22, 2019
“This is why we conduct these tests, to learn and improve our systems. The information gained from this first mission of Starliner will be critical in our efforts to strengthen NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and return America’s human spaceflight capability.”
NASA celebrated the landing, however, Starliner failed to dock with the International Space Station as it was scheduled to do on December 21. This was due to a timing error that led Boeing to change Starliner's schedule and bring it back to Earth early.
Still, NASA reported that Boeing was able to complete a number of test objectives including the successful launch of the first human-rated United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket and the completion of a positive command uplink between the International Space Station and Starliner.
“Today’s successful landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is a testament to the women and men who have dedicated themselves to ensuring Starliner can safely transport crews to low-Earth orbit and back to Earth,” said Boeing Senior Vice President of Space and Launch Jim Chilton.
“The Starliner Orbital Flight Test has and will continue to provide incredibly valuable data that we, along with the NASA team, will use to support future Starliner missions launched from and returning to American soil.”
NASA also revealed that the Starliner will be refurbished for Boeing’s first operational crewed mission and praised the mission as an important step in testing the teams.
"The hardest parts of this mission were a tremendous success. The Commercial Crew Program is strong. But keep in mind, this is a great reminder that human exploration is not for the faint of heart. We are just getting started!” said NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard