Thursday, February 18, 2016

Boeing Tests Starliner Spacecraft

Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman

Engineers from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and Boeing dropped a full-scale test article of the company’s CST-100 Starliner into Langley’s 20-foot-deep Hydro Impact Basin. Although the spacecraft is designed to land on land, Boeing is testing the Starliner’s systems in water to ensure astronaut safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch or ascent.

Testing allows engineers to understand the performance of the spacecraft when it hits the water, how it will right itself and how to handle rescue and recovery operations. The test is part of the qualification phase of testing and evaluation for the Starliner system to ensure it is ready to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Engineers like to do these tests from different heights and angles to account for all scenarios.

After carrying astronauts to space, Boeing's crew capsule CST-100 Starliner would use parachutes to land softly on the ground. But in some emergency situations, it might need to land in water, which is why the company recently dropped the Starliner into the pool at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX were awarded multi-billion dollar deals in 2014 for development of spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to and from space.


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