After a maiden flight that was shortened by an off-nominal orbit insertion, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is preparing for its first landing from orbit. Touchdown at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is planned for 5:57 AM MST (12:57 UTC) on December 22.
The spacecraft will approach from the southwest, overflying the Pacific Ocean and Baja California.
If, at any point leading up to the deorbit burn, NASA or Boeing teams feel the need to reevaluate landing options, there is a backup landing opportunity at 1:48 PM EST (20:48 UTC). If this backup attempt is utilized, the spacecraft would approach from the northwest.
Sunday’s landing attempt comes six days earlier than originally intended. The Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission to demonstrate end-to-end performance of the uncrewed spacecraft was cut short by an error with Starliner’s Mission Elapsed Timer (MET).
During launch, Starliner sets its MET based on data retrieved from its Atlas V launch vehicle. During Friday’s nominal launch, Starliner retrieved the wrong data, resulting in an incorrectly set MET.
After nominally separating from the rocket, Starliner’s MET indicated that the spacecraft was at a point in the mission profile different than its actual location. This disagreement resulted in ...