Starliner stalls and is forced to return to Earth

Yesterday, Boeing and NASA launched their CST-100 Starliner. However, the event didn’t go exactly according to plan as the craft stalled while on the way to the International Space Station (ISS).
Boeing NASA Starliner
The CST-100 Starliner made its maiden launch at December 20, 2019 6:36 am EST. Photo: Boeing

Early return

The BBC reports that even though the craft launched successfully on its Atlas rocket from Florida, technical issues took it on the wrong path. Overall, the capsule burnt too much fuel while it fired its thrusters. This meant that there was then a lack of supply to carry on the mission. Therefore, the craft had to abort and make its way back to ground.

The craft is using parachutes and airbags to land softly in the New Mexico desert on Sunday. Despite the successful rocket launch, the ultimate mission is a failure as the primary function of the Starliner is to transport passengers to the ISS.

However, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine remains positive about the events as he concludes that there were many things they went right. As this was a test, the group can go back to the lab and keep progressing. He added that if astronauts had been in the capsule, they could have helped steer it on course.

Starliner conference
Boeing and NASA explained what happened after the launch at a press conference. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Losing ground

Nonetheless, this incident hints that Boeing are behind their counterparts, SpaceX, when it comes to modern operations. The Elon Musk-led company has managed to conduct several launches successfully in recent times. With this being the first time since 2011 that NASA launched from its own soil, they would have expected grander results.

Just earlier this month, the firm completed the 19th Commercial Resupply Service. This carried resources that will support dozens of science and research initiatives taking place during the planned Expeditions 61 and 62.

Additionally, SpaceX is on course to introduce the Crew Dragon into action by early 2020. Successful testing of the reusable spacecraft is enabling Musk’s ambitious targets to be hit. This craft will help deliver NASA astronauts to the station.

It’s not just ISS-related projects that SpaceX seems to be leading in. The Starship is on course to become the most powerful rocket in the world. This behemoth is built to hold up to 100 passengers and will shuttle both people and cargo to the nether regions. Furthermore, the company’s Starlink program continues to see development with a batch of 60 satellites ready to launch this month.

Starliner Launch
The Starliner is planned to be reusable up to 10 times with a six-month turnaround time. Photo: Boeing

Great progress

Subsequently, all these movements are paving the way for SpaceX’s mission of forming a colony on Mars. Boeing needs to keep working with NASA to ensure that healthy competition remains alive when it comes to the new space race. Hopefully, it can swiftly work on the issues that it faced and relaunch stronger than before.

Nonetheless, there have been plenty of successful developments in the latter half of this decade with space-related technology. Therefore, the 2020s is set to be an even more revolutionary decade for space exploration.

What are your thoughts on the issues that the CST-100 Starliner faced? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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