After a gorgeous and 100% successful launch atop the Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance, Boeing’s uncrewed Starliner crew capsule suffered a mission-shortening failure just 30 minutes into its inaugural flight.
A Mission Event Timer issue resulted in Starliner burning a significantly larger amount of propellant than planned and forced Boeing and NASA to abort the planned rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station and opt instead for a landing at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, No Earlier Than Sunday morning (22 December) roughly 48 hours after launch.
The issue came as a blow to Boeing after a wonderfully successful liftoff of Starliner on its inaugural, uncrewed Orbital Flight Test mission to the International Space Station.
Per the pre-launch timeline, Starliner was supposed to execute an Orbit Insertion Burn 31 minutes after liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to finish placing itself into a stable and circular orbit after being initially dropped off in a planned sub-orbital trajectory by the Atlas V rocket.
However, for reasons Boeing engineers do not yet understand, Starliner’s Mission Event Timer clock malfunctioned, causing the vehicle to think it was at a different point in the mission and ...