Touchdown: Boeing Starliner returns to Earth after test flight to International Space Station

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — Boeing’s Starliner capsule touched down in the New Mexico desert Wednesday, less than a week after it lifted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral last Thursday for an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station, officials said.

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According to The Associated Press, the landing came shortly before 7 p.m. EDT, about four hours after the capsule departed from the orbiting laboratory with no people – just a dummy – on board. With the exception of some issues with thrusters and the cooling system, the demo went “extremely” well and met all of its objectives, NASA Commercial Crew Director Steve Stich said.

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“Touchdown, #Starliner. At 6:49pm ET (22:49 UTC), @BoeingSpace’s spacecraft landed at White Sands Space Harbor, New Mexico,” NASA tweeted alongside a video of the moment. “Today’s return from the @Space_Station marks the end of Orbital Flight Test-2, a demo providing data to help certify it to carry astronauts.”

In a statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called the teamwork between the agency and Boeing “a major and successful step” toward conducting more flights to the ISS “on American spacecraft from American soil.”

“The OFT-2 mission represents the power of collaboration, which allows us to innovate for the benefit of humanity and inspire the world through discovery,” the statement read. “This golden era of spaceflight wouldn’t be possible without the thousands of individuals who persevered and poured their passion into this great achievement.”

The flight came more than two years after software errors thwarted the capsule’s first test flight in December 2019, the AP previously reported. Corroded valves stopped a second launch attempt last summer, according to the news agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.