Capsule launches to wrong orbit, skips space station

By

National News

December 20, 2019 - 3:37 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Boeing’s new Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit after lifting off on its first test flight Friday, a blow to the company’s effort to launch astronauts for NASA next year.

As the company scrambled to understand what happened, NASA canceled the Starliner’s docking with the International Space Station, instead focusing on a hastier than planned return to Earth. The Starliner could parachute into its landing site in the New Mexico desert as early as Sunday.

Officials stressed the capsule was stable and safe, and that had astronauts been aboard, they would have been in no danger. A crew may have been able to take over control and salvage the mission. The problem was with the Starliner’s mission clock: It was off-kilter, which delayed timed-commands to put the capsule in the right orbit. Engineers worried the problem could resurface during descent.

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