Boeing CST-100 Starliner crew capsule passes major propulsion tests

Boeing reports the successful completion of CST-100 Starliner propulsion tests, revealing that it proved the vehicle's ability to maneuver in space during its work on Friday. The testing took place at NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, where Boeing teams successfully fired the vehicle's thrusters more than two dozen times.

In an announcement about the tests, Boeing revealed that it fired the CST-100 Starliner's thrusters 19 times to simulate the maneuvers its vehicle would have to make in space. As well, the Starliner's thrusters were fired a dozen times to simulate its critical high-altitude abort system, according to the private aerospace company.

In addition to firing the thrusters, Boeing said that it fired 22 propulsion elements, including the important launch abort engines, in order to simulate a low-altitude abort scenario. All of these tests involved a 'flight-like' Starliner service module that was equipped with fuel and helium tanks, altitude and orbital maneuvering control thrusters, and other necessary components.

Vice President of Boeing's Commercial Crew Program John Mulholland said:

With the safety of our astronauts at the forefront of all we do, this successful testing proves this system will work correctly and keep Starliner and the crew safe through all phases of flight. The milestone paves the way for the upcoming pad abort test and flights to and from the International Space Station later this year.

The Starliner project is Boeing's part of NASA Commercial Crew Program, which has tasked both it and SpaceX with developing systems that'll launch astronauts from US soil into space. Both companies have experienced multiple setbacks over past years, but are finally nearing project completion with expected launches in coming months.