NASA Administrator Charles Bolden took a close look on Tuesday at the airbag system for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, before a contingency water landing test with a full-size spacecraft mock-up.
Although it’s designed to land on land, Boeing is testing the Starliner at Langley’s Hydro Impact Basin to evaluate its tendencies in case it has to land in the water in the event of, for example, an unlikely launch or ascent emergency that calls for the spacecraft to separate from its rocket and parachute itself and the astronauts inside to safety.
Starliner is being developed in partnership with NASA to carry up to four astronauts at a time to the International Space Station. An additional crew member will allow science time on the orbiting laboratory to double for NASA’s Journey to Mars and research that will benefit everyone on Earth.
Bolden visited Langley to deliver his annual “State of NASA” address during which he detailed aspects of the agency’s budget request.