While it’s not the mission we planned to execute, the Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test mission remains under way.
At this afternoon’s Integrated Mission Management Team (IMMT) meeting with representatives from Boeing and NASA, we made the decision to perform orbit adjust burns and prepare for a landing at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The prime target is the White Sands Space Harbor runway on Sunday. The integrated team believes this is the most conservative approach for the Starliner to safely return to Earth on land for data retrieval, analysis and refurbishment for future missions.
The team will continue to closely review the data they are receiving from the vehicle, which is currently in a safe orbit and operating nominally. In the time before the burns, flight controllers, as well as spacecraft system experts who have designed, built and tested the spacecraft, carefully and methodically reviewed performance data and made the necessary adjustments to bring Starliner home in a stable configuration.
Again, this is not the mission we expected. However, we are getting important data from the Starliner that gives us confidence in our decision to return home safely. Some initial learnings of note include:
• Solar array performance is better than predicted
• The Crew Module is in good shape
• Environmental Control and Life Support System and Active Thermal System are performing well
• Separations to-date were nominal, including ascent cover jettison and separation from the launch vehicle
• Guidance, Navigation and Control systems are working well
We will continue to share updates as the mission progresses.