The new Starliner spaceship will not be able to dock with the ISS and will return to Earth

When the ship separated from the launch vehicle, the ship’s engines did not turn on, NASA said.

Starliner spaceship will not be able to dock with the ISS and will return to Earth.
Starliner spaceship will not be able to dock with the ISS and will return to Earth.

The new American spacecraft Starliner, launched on Friday in unmanned operation to the International Space Station (ISS), will not be able to dock with it and will probably land within 48 hours. 

  • This was announced at a press conference on Friday with the Director of NASA Jim Bridenstine and Vice President of Boeing Corporation Jim Chilton.

When the ship separated from the launch vehicle, there was no activation of the ship's engines, said the director of NASA. According to his assessment, a possible cause of malfunction - a failure in the ship's system of time synchronization. 

As a result of this failure, the ship went into the mode in which it was not supposed to be and was burned a large amount of fuel that was on board. - Since this fuel was used up, it seems that the ship will not be able to get close to the International Space Station (ISS).

Boeing's Starliner Launch to the International Space Station

In addition, according to the director of NASA, at the time when the Mission Control Center was able to turn on the engines, it was too late. This happened because the signal transmitted via the communications satellite did not reach the ship's systems in time. 

This is only the most preliminary data so far, which is updated every minute, and that he had already informed the US Vice-President Michael Pence, who heads the National Space Council.

According to the director of NASA, "if there was a crew on board the ship, the docking with the ISS would take place. At this stage, efforts are being made to keep the orbit of the ship and collect as much data as possible on the operation of its systems, said Breidenstein.

During the day the ship will receive commands to correct orbit, NASA representative Steve Stitch said at a press conference, at about 1:30 p.m. U.S. East Coast time (9:30 p.m.). - A second attempt will be made at 14:25 to make it optimal for landing at White Sands Range. According to calculations, the landing can take place on Sunday at 07:30.

Reasons are being determined.

The reasons for the emergency situation on the Starliner are still unclear, Boeing Vice President Jim Chilton admitted at a press conference that the engines have not been turned on in time, he said. - We have not yet determined the cause." He also did not rule out the possibility that the problem is related to the ship's system of calculating time. "The ship is now in safe orbit and all systems are operational, we have already checked some of the optical systems," he added.

The ship is scheduled to return to Earth within 48 hours at the White Sands Range in New Mexico, he said. The spaceship is expect to take about a day to gather information about the ship's systems, and if necessary, that period will be extended to 48 hours, fuel available on board is sufficient for landing. 

"If it is possible to leave the ship in orbit for a longer time to test the systems, we will do it," said Jim Chilton.

Bridenstine, for his part, stressed that the main task now is to ensure the landing of the ship, an important element of the overall testing program.

It is too early to predict.

Responding to a question about how the current situation would affect the manned flight programme, Jim Bridenstine stressed that it is too early to assess. NASA expected that the Starliner with a crew will be sent to the ISS in mid-2020. To perform this flight nasa trained American astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada.

The new American ship Starliner, developed by the Boeing Corporation, has a weight of 13 tons, is designed for a crew of 7 astronauts and is capable of autonomous flight for up to 60 hours. It was first launched on Friday in unmanned mode to the ISS from Cape Canaveral Air Base, Florida, using an Atlas V launch vehicle.

The U.S. space agency stopped manned missions in 2011 after completing its Space Shuttle program. Since then, astronauts have been delivered to ISS by the Russian "Soyuz". NASA has been working for several years, including private companies, to send their astronauts into orbit on U.S. ships.

In addition to the Starliner, the Crew Dragon spaceship was developed by the SpaceX company, founded by the American billionaire Elon Musk. It was launched without a crew on March 2 and docked to the station the following day.