Starliner makes a safe landing—now NASA faces some big decisions

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft safely returned from orbit on Sunday morning, landing at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico before sunrise. The capsule very nearly hit its bullseye, and initial reports from astronauts on the scene say the vehicle came through in "pristine" condition.

The company will now spend several days preparing Starliner for transit, before shipping it from New Mexico back to Boeing's processing facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Then, engineers will spend most of January reviewing data captured by on-board sensors. What happens after that is the big question.

Mission Elapsed Time anomaly

After the spacecraft launched on board its Atlas V rocket, but before it separated from the booster, the capsule needed to figure out what time it was. According to Chilton, the way this is done is by "reaching down into" the rocket and pulling timing data out. However, during this process, the spacecraft grabbed the wrong coefficient. "We started the clock at the wrong time," Chilton said. "The spacecraft thought she was later in the mission and started to behave that way."

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Source: Ars Technica

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