Chris Ferguson sent this note to Starliner employees Friday evening.
While we were off to a perfect on-time launch this morning, as most of you know by now, the team was presented with unique and unanticipated trajectory challenges shortly after we separated from the launch vehicle. By all measures the Atlas/Centaur performed very well. However, a combination of on-board timing issues and challenges commanding the vehicle resulted in an incomplete orbit insertion burn and higher than planned propellant usage.
We are currently in a safe orbit thanks to the timely actions of the Mission Operations and Mission Support Room teams. The professionalism and poise under what have certainly been the most demanding conditions this veteran team has ever experienced is a testament to their pre-flight preparation and training.
We are working several options to recover Spacecraft 3 at one of our Western U.S. landing locations within the next 48 hours and are approaching the next few days with guarded optimism of a successful recovery. Our Landing and Recovery teams are executing their pre-planned contingency deployment to White Sands Missile Range and will be in position by later this evening to make a fully supported recovery.
To coin a golf analogy, anyone can play in the fairway . . . only true champions can win while playing out of the rough. Said another way, we will be judged not by our mistakes, but rather by the poise under pressure we demonstrate as we recover from them. We can do this.