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NASA's Commercial Crew Program Suffers a Setback

Launch of Boeing Starliner Spacecraft

NASA’s commercial crew program suffered a setback this morning at the Cape. After a successful launch of an uncrewed Boeing Starliner spacecraft, and the separation of the Starliner from the Atlas V launch vehicle, an anomaly occurred. NASA Administer Jim Bridenstine spoke at Kennedy Space Center this morning. He explained what happened:

“So we did have some challenges today. When the spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle, we did not get the orbital insertion burn we were hoping for.” 

And because the spacecraft burned more fuel than expected, it will now not be possible for it to rendezvous with the International Space Station. However, Bridenstine said the situation might have been different if there had been astronauts aboard:

“This anomaly has to do with automation. If we had crew in there, they would have been safe. And in fact, we very well could have been docking with the ISS tomorrow.” 

Instead, the primary objective of this test flight is now to land the spacecraft safely on the ground in New Mexico.