Boeing, NASA and U.S. Army personnel work around the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft shortly after it landed in White Sands, N.M., on Sunday.
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft landed on Sunday morning at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, marking the first time that, apart from the shuttle, a U.S. “crew-capable” space capsule made a touchdown on land.
The Starliner, which didn’t have a crew on board, is hoping to bring U.S. astronauts back to the International Space Station one day soon.
The spacecraft returned earlier than expected when it was aborted on its journey to the space station. The docking was scrubbed when an error with the mission timer on board the spacecraft malfunctioned, causing the Starliner during an early orbital maneuver to burn too much fuel.
Nonetheless, without a delay, the landing went off. The capsule re-entered the atmosphere, deployed three parachutes and ditched its heat shield, all as planned, before reaching the ground.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said later on Sunday morning at a news conference: “When you look at the landing, it was an absolute bullseye,It was better than I think anyone had anticipated. That’s good for the agency, that’s good for Boeing and good for the United States of America.”
“When we think about the end-to-end test … a lot of things went right. I said that on Friday, and a lot more things went right today. We’re very excited about the future,” he added.
Jim Chilton, the space and launch vice president of Boeing, repeated the remarks of Bridenstine, saying that the Starliner’s performance was exceptional despite never reaching the space station.
Chilton said, “Return is something you really can’t test, You have to put your heat shield on and go through the heat regime. Today couldn’t have gone any better. From an overall perspective, we’re as pleased as we can be with the design.”
The desert landing was noteworthy because all landed in the ocean past U.S. spacecraft in the programs of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Nevertheless, private space companies such as SpaceX have perfected land touchdowns as the industry moves towards reusable space vehicles.
Starliner orbited Earth 33 times over the planet approximately 155 miles. Despite the failure of the mission timer, officials said other experiments were carried out that would support it on future flights. A test dummy called “Rosie the Rocketeer” wore sensors to measure what astronauts would actually feel during launch and landing.
NASA did not decide, before sending astronauts to the space station, to require a second unmanned Starliner test flight. The space agency said that all performed well was avionics, life support, thermal management, power, control of attitude and instrumentation.


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