Watch Boeing's CST-100 Starliner ace NASA's parachute test

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner has hit a major new milestone, paving the way for its eventual crewed trips to and from the ISS. The milestone marked the success of Starliner's final parachute balloon-drop test. NASA notes that once it's operational, Starliner will be the first orbital crew capsule made in America that will perform land-to-land trips.

Boeing is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program; it has spent considerable time and money developing the Starliner orbital crew capsule the space agency will use to ship its astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Starliner's unique landing system enables it to return on land.

NASA explains that the last parachute balloon drop test was part of an effort to 'strengthen the spacecraft's landing system' before the planned crewed launches. Half a dozen balloon drop tests were performed to gather performance data, one for each of six different adverse environmental conditions.

The parachutes are joined by airbags designed to deploy when the capsule is at specific altitudes, the combination of which enables Starliner to make a gentle touchdown when it lands in the American desert. As part of this final test, the team sent Starliner to an altitude of 35,000ft above New Mexico.

This test involved previously used parachutes and was, despite the simulation of two different faults, successful in landing. Boeing shared a video of the landing test from two different viewpoints, including one from a camera on the test capsule, giving the public a look at the slow descent into the desert.