Boeing's astronaut taxi has returned to Earth from the International Space Station, completing a repeat test flight with a mannequin on board.
The Starliner capsule parachuted into the New Mexico desert just four hours after leaving the orbiting lab on Wednesday. Aside from a few snags, Starliner appears to have clinched its high-stakes shakedown cruise 2 1/2 years after its botched first attempt.
That means NASA test pilots will fly next, perhaps by year's end. NASA wants two competing U.S. companies ferrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is already the established leader.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is already the established leader, launching astronauts since 2020 and even tourists. Its crew capsules splashdown off the Florida coast, Boeing’s Starliner returns to the Army’s expansive and desolate White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.