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Boeing's Starliner making its way back to Earth. Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner — a capsule designed to one day bring humans to orbit — is back on Earth after the uncrewed spacecraft failed in its bid to dock with the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The Starliner was originally expected to bring its first crew to the space station for NASA in early 2020, but this mission's problems may call that timeline into question.

Details: According to Boeing, the landing appeared to go smoothly on Sunday morning, with a good touchdown in White Sands, New Mexico.

  • The landing comes days earlier than expected, however, after Starliner burned more fuel than planned just after launch on Friday due to a problem with its onboard automated clock.
  • That issue led mission managers to call off the capsule's docking attempt with the station, opting instead to bring the spacecraft back to Earth early.

Between the lines: According to Boeing and NASA, the mission wasn't a total failure even though docking didn't occur.

  • Flight controllers still ran Starliner through its paces in orbit and during landing to gather key data about how the spacecraft will behave when people are eventually put on board.

The big picture: NASA hopes to use Boeing's Starliner and a complementary system SpaceX is developing to start launching NASA astronauts from U.S. soil again, ending the agency's reliance on Russia's Soyuz capsule and rocket for human space launches.

Go deeper: Boeing's Starliner won't reach space station after malfunction

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

State of play: James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

49 mins ago - World

Putin to demand legal guarantee against NATO expansion in call with Biden

Biden and Putin meeting in Geneva in June. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding a legally binding guarantee that NATO will not expand east — including to Ukraine — and plans to raise the issue in an upcoming phone call with President Biden, according to the Kremlin.

Why it matters: Russia has massed more than 94,000 troops on the border with Ukraine and could be preparing for a large-scale invasion at the end of January, Ukraine's defense minister said Friday.