NASA has announced it partnered with Boeing conduct the CST-100 Starliner Pad Abort Test, which launched on Monday, Nov. 4, from Launch Complex 32 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the agency said.
Boeing´s Pad Abort Test is part of NASA´s Commercial Crew Program work with the American aerospace industry — through a public-private partnership — to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which would allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity´s testbed for exploration.
The test was designed to verify that each of Starliner´s systems will function not only separately, but in concert, to protect astronauts by carrying them safely away from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff. During the test, Starliner´s four launch abort engines and several orbital maneuvering and altitude control thrusters fired, pushing the spacecraft approximately 1 mile above land and 1 mile north of the test stand.
The spacecraft´s crew module used parachutes with landing airbags to touch down at White Sands Missile Range. It was recovered and brought back to Launch Complex 32 for evaluation and analysis.