Boeing's Starliner lands in desert - company

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At the same time, both NASA and Boeing say if astronauts were aboard the Starliner, they would still be safe.

Hoards of people watched the Starliner's initial flight take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last week.

The test flight of the uncrewed Starliner to the International Space Station will provide valuable data on the end-to-end performance of the Atlas V rocket, Starliner spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

SpaceX's got now one last obstacle, represented by a launch abort test, before transporting two NASA astronauts in its Dragon capsule, next year.

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Things went awry for the Starliner after experiencing problems with the craft's mission clock, which was off-kilter and delayed timed-commands to set the capsule into the correct orbit. But officials ultimately decided that the capsule couldn't climb high enough to reach the space station, so it would have to be brought back to Earth early. Boeing and NASA have not yet offered additional details about the anomaly or about the potential fate of the capsule.

Boeing's Starliner Capsule that ran into immediate problems after take-off in its final un-crewed test flight now faces another test, the journey back to Earth.

But because of the mishap, the station docking was scrapped, and Boeing and NASA chose to bring the spacecraft home as soon as possible.

BoeingSpace astronaut Christopher Ferguson said the Atlas 5 rocket used to launch the Starliner "worked perfectly".

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According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, the Starliner believed that the time was different than it actually was, which resulted in more fuel being used during the unoccupied flight than planned. It's a serious blow to Boeing's aspirations to eventually deliver astronauts to the ISS on behalf of NASA.

But neither firm has yet launched a manned test of its newest capsule. The space firm wants these two personal vehicles to fill the astronaut-ferrying sneakers of the house shuttle fleet, which retired in July 2011.

"It appears as though the mission elapse timing system had an error in it", Bridenstine said.

If successful, Sunday's landing will mark the first time a U.S. orbital space capsule designed for humans landed on land.

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