The team handling the flight couldn't communicate with the Starliner in time to fix the problem remotely, Bridenstine said, adding that astronauts could have corrected it had they been on board. The capsule, with no crew on board, separated and began flight on its own about 15 minutes later.
The Boeing Starliner capsule found its end in the wrong orbit. NASA and Boeing are targeting the 3:36 a.m. for a PT liftoff time. Once they fired, they burned more fuel than anticipated, putting a rendezvous with the ISS out of reach. Instead of executing an engine burn to get into its target orbit, Starliner ended up doing a different burn created to maintain control and precision.
"It was stunning to see", NASA spokesperson Marie Lewis said.
"This is in fact why we test", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a news conference Friday.
Had this Starliner mission gone to plan, the next step was to be a crewed test flight sometime in 2020. "As a result of starting the clock at the wrong time, the spacecraft upon reaching space thought she was later in the mission and, being autonomous, started to behave that way". This is why we test. However, that's not official yet, and Boeing says it will provide updates on what the team decides. Astronauts now have to use Russian shuttles to get to the ISS. Those flights to the ISS are costing NASA up to $86 million USA each.
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft has suffered a major setback on its maiden spaceflight today. SpaceX may well end up being the first American spacecraft to transport to the ISS since the shuttle fleet retired.
As they flew over Jacksonville, Florida, the pilot notified passengers the launch was about to happen, so they would not be alarmed.
A senior vice president of Boeing's Space and Launch Division, Jim Chilton, described the error which prevented the capsule from docking with the ISS as "an unexpected event". It completed a similar test flight of its crew capsule back in March.
"This is why we flight test, right?"