Boeing's Starliner spacecraft completes its first pad abort test

An artist's impression of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew capsule docking at the International Space Station

Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. An artist's impression of a Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew capsule docking at the International Space Station

Once it is recovered and taken back to Launch Complex 32, experts will evaluate and analyze the vessel.

With SpaceX steamrolling ahead toward achieving the goal of sending USA astronauts to the International Space Station, Boeing took a step of its own today toward accomplishing the same feat.

Boeing's Starliner, one of two commercial spacecraft created to shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), completed a critical safety milestone in an end-to-end test of its abort system.

"This will be Boeing's first flight test as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program and will help evaluate the performance of the abort system prior to missions to the International Space Station with a crew onboard", according to a NASA statement. Boeing is basically competing with SpaceX, which has been testing its Crew Dragon capsule. Descending under the two red, white and blue canopies, the Starliner touched down about a mile (1.6 km) from its test stand, 95 seconds after it lifted off.

"We did have a deployment anomaly, not a parachute failure".

Boeing is making a test launch of its CST-100 Starliner capsule which is aiming toward taking people to orbit.

Aerojet Rocketdyne developed and tested the abort motors for the CST-100 spacecraft.

The capsule is equipped with four powerful launch abort engines, or LAEs, each one generating 40,000 pounds of thrust, and 20 orbital maneuvering and attitude control - OMAC - engines providing 1,500 pounds of push each. The test was created to carry the capsule a mile high and a mile north of the test site.

The ascent cover and forward heat shield protecting the spacecraft's parachutes jettisoned roughly 19 seconds into flight, and then, drogue parachutes and two main parachutes deployed to slow the descent of the vehicle. The exciting thing about Aerodyne's innovation for the crew vehicle's launch abort system is that it allows for a safe abort at any time during the mission, which has never before been possible with crew vehicles. 'We really wanna take a hard look at all the data... and make sure that everything worked as well as it appeared, ' she also said. During this test, the four main abort engines at the base of Starliner's service module will ignite and burn for several seconds, pushing the spacecraft off the launch pad.

Private companies - SpaceX included - have been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012.

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