NASA and Boeing Tested Starliner's Launch Abort System

Boeing and NASA keep on testing Starliner's functionality and the Pad Abort Test took place on November 4.
Nursah Ergü

On November 4, Nasa and Boeing tested Boeing CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle. The Pad Abort Test took place at Launch Complex 32 at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at approximately 9:15 a.m.

The test carried to purpose to verify the systems of Starliner to see if they will protect the astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad if any unlikely event were to occur. This was Boeing's first flight test with Starliner and it was part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight launches to the International Space Station from American soil.


Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager said "Tests like this one are crucial to help us make sure the systems are as safe as possible. We are thrilled with the preliminary results, and now we have the job of really digging into the data and analyzing whether everything worked as we expected."

Source: Mooneydriver/iStock

Starliner's four abort engines shut off after 5 seconds as planned, then transferred steering for the next 5 seconds to the control thrusters.

The spacecraft rose around its peak altitude of approximately 4,500 feet, and under a half-minute into the test, the parachutes of Starliner deployed. Normally, Starliner has 3 parachutes but during the test, 2 of them were deployed, however; it doesn't present a danger in the test parameters.

Source: LaserLens/iStock

Heatshield was released after one minute, and airbags inflated and Starliner landed on the ground. The whole test took around 95 seconds.

John Mulholland, Vice President and Program Manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program said, “Emergency scenario testing is very complex, and today our team validated that the spacecraft will keep our crew safe in the unlikely event of an abort. Our teams across the program have made remarkable progress to get us to this point, and we are fully focused on the next challenge—Starliner’s uncrewed flight to demonstrate Boeing’s capability to safely fly crew to and from the space station.” 

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