Boeing's Starliner capsule, which will take astronauts into space, completed a key abortion test on Monday, as it flew nearly a mile before finding the parachute in the New Desert. -Mexico.
No astronaut was aboard the capsule for testing the crew abortion system performed Monday morning, it was simply a manikin. The abandonment system will provide a quick getaway to three astronauts in case of an emergency on the Florida tarmac or in flight.
Boeing plans to launch the Starliner to the International Space Station next month unmanned. The Starliner capsule will be launched at the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
"The Starliner spacecraft (from Boeing Space) has reached a crucial safety milestone during an important test of its launch interruption system this morning. Many data analyzes are waiting for us, but we are one step closer to crewed flights! "Tweeted NASA.
Only two of the three major parachutes were deployed, but NASA said the astronauts would have been safe if they were on board. The test took place at the US Army Range of White Sands missiles.
"The test team and the spacecraft have worked flawlessly," said John Mulholland, Boeing's Starliner Program Manager, in a statement. declaration. "The emergency scenario tests are very complex and our team confirmed today that the spacecraft would ensure the safety of our crew in the unlikely event of an abortion."
The capsule used four launch stop engines (LAE) and several maneuver and orbit control (OMAC) thrusters, according to Boeing.
"With 190,000 pounds of thrust, the spacecraft quickly moved away from the test bench, showing how quickly the system can move crews away from danger if necessary," the company said in a statement. "The vehicle traveled nearly one mile in less than 20 seconds before deploying its front heat shield and parachutes."
The entire flight lasted a minute and a half.
"Have you seen the Starliner Critical Safety Test (Boeing Space) this morning? Back on the East Coast, ULA technicians begin assembling #AtlasV which will launch #Starliner, tweeted United Launch Alliance on Monday.
Last year, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin escaped dramatically after the Soyuz booster rocket failed just two minutes after the launch.
After exploding in the sky from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a problem with the separation of the first and second stage reinforcing rockets forced Hague and Ovchinine to perform a "ballistic reentry" into the Earth's atmosphere.
Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers