By Sasha Ellis,
NASA’s Langley Research Center, Virginia
Hoisted about 30 feet in the air, a mockup of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft awaits its encounter with a pad full of dirt.
“Three, two, one” projects over the loud speaker just before the spacecraft is released and makes a loud thud when meeting the dirt. Six attached airbags absorb much of the landing impact and stabilize the spacecraft.