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First Space Mission Of Reaching ISS Fails For Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft

First Space Mission Of Reaching ISS Fails For Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft
The first test flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft did not manage to achieve its mission – successfully reaching the International Space Station. The launch which took place from Cape Canaveral in Florida according to schedule on 20 December did make it successfully into an orbit around Earth but started experiencing problems after about 30 minutes from lift-off.
According to Boeing, the Starliner failed to fire its thrusters as had been planned so that it could raise itself to an even higher obit that would have matched the orbit height of the ISS. That steered the craft out of course with no chance of course correction. 
The spacecraft is in “a safe and stable configuration”, Boeing said in a statement, and added that the company engineers are trying to decide on the next course of action. 
However, even though Starliner is still raising its orbit, it won’t be able to reach to the ISS because the craft gad already burnt out too much of its fuel, said NASA head Jim Bridenstine in a press conference. The issue of the failed attempt was because of one of the clocks abroad the spacecraft that induced the systems of the craft to believe that the mission was further away than it actually was which made the craft burn up its fuel much earlier than it was programmed to, Bridenstine further stated.
Engineers are not yet sure about why the clock behaved in the way it did. The engineers of Boeing have however been able to place the spacecraft in an orbit that would allow it to return safely back to Earth in New Mexico on 22 December. Boeing said that during the remainder of the flight and after the spacecraft lands, more tests would be carried out by the company. A decision on whether more test flights are needed will be decided after the tests by NASA and Boeing.
“This morning’s launch was a test flight, which is why it flew a mannequin instead of an astronaut,” says space consultant Laura Forczyk. “Failures are expected during testing.” The aim of the Starliner craft is to ferry astronauts into space. However if there were crew members on the spacecraft, the issue could have been resolved because it was  an automation issue, Bridenstine said.
Forczyk said that according to Boeing and NASA’s schedule, the first flight of Starliner with crew abroad was to take place in early 2020. But after this failure, that test flight is likely to be postponed. NASA is already considering purchasing more seats aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft after delays in the space programs of both Boeing and SpaceX. Both these private United States based companies were appointed by NASA to build capsules to shuttle NASA astronauts to the ISS.
“Further delays in the Commercial Crew Program unfortunately mean NASA will continue to be reliant on its Russian partner to fly NASA astronauts to the ISS,” says Forczyk.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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