Submitted by News Desk on

It’s been nine years since the US ended the space shuttle program, ending the US’s ability to send its own astronauts into space.  Earlier this morning, NASA launched Boeing’s new Starliner atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  But shortly after launch, engineers detected problems with the Starliner and its launch and NASA has abandoned plans for the Starliner to dock with the International Space Station, ISS.

After the launch, the capsule successfully separated from the first stage launch rocket, but was not pointed in the correct orientation anymore, forcing NASA engineers in Houston to make course corrections by burning onboard fuel.  Boeing said they are working with NASA and are “assessing next steps”.

This mission is supposed to be an entirely automated mission to test the new capsule US Astronauts will use to reenter space with and is schedule to last a week, returning on December 28.  When it eventually lands, it will deploy its parachutes and land in New Mexico.  Large airbags will deploy just before touchdown to soften the landing.

Starliner atop Atlas V rocket


When NASA ended its manned launch missions, it handed over development of launch systems and low orbit missions to the commercial industry in order to save money that it plans to use to focus on more expensive and distant goals such as returning humans to the Moon and future manned missions to Mars.  "Nasa wants to be one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace for human spaceflight in the future," said the agency's administrator, Jim Bridenstine.

"The ultimate goal being we want to drive down costs, increase innovation, and increase access to space in a way that we've never seen before."