Boeing is trying to catch up with SpaceX after too much drama

However, this did not materialize.

Meanwhile, Boeing is still trying to conduct an uncrewed test flight. The company will make its second attempt this week, hoping the flawless performance will fix its image as a shooting star in human spaceflight.

The controversies surrounding Starliner also added to other issues. Problems within Boeing’s commercial aircraft division have undermined the company’s strong image in recent years.

Here’s a look back at Starliner’s previous attempts.


In 2014, NASA awarded fixed-price contracts — meaning the space agency would pay only the agreed upfront price and not a penny more — to Boeing and SpaceX. The move solidified their openings as companies that will return NASA astronauts to space under the Commercial Crew program. Boeing’s prize pool totaled $4.2 billion, a significant amount compared to SpaceX’s $2.6 billion, although the company said this because SpaceX has already been paid millions to develop an unmanned version of the dragon spacecraft. .

While both spacecraft were expected to send astronauts into space after just a few years, by the end of the decade it became clear that SpaceX was outselling Boeing.

By the time the company’s first unmanned orbital flight test, dubbed the OFT-1, arrived at the launch pad in December 2019, SpaceX had already won it six months ago.

And almost immediately after Starliner was released on December 20, 2019, it was clear that something was wrong.

It was later revealed that the Starliner’s internal clock was off for 11 hours, causing the spacecraft to crash and stumble, NASA and Boeing officials told reporters. Starliner was forced to return to Earth early.

Months later, a second serious software issue was revealed, which a government security official said caused a “disastrous outage”. Boeing (bachelor degree) He was able to identify and correct the error before it affected Starliner’s behavior.

Boeing agreed to fix the problems and pay for the second attempt at the unmanned test flight, setting aside nearly half a billion dollars. After months of troubleshooting, security reviews and investigations, the test flight.

Former astronaut abandons mission

Former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who left the State Astronaut Corps in 2011 to help Boeing design and build the Starliner, was supposed to lead the Starliner’s first manned mission as a private astronaut. But after the failed maiden flight test, Ferguson announced that he could no longer fly the craft, citing scheduling conflicts.

NASA and Boeing announce this in late 2020, saying that Ferguson’s decision was made for “personal reasons”. Ferguson said in tweet follow That he planned to put his family first, he “has made a lot of commitments that I just can’t risk losing.”

Although the manned mission has been rescheduled several times, there doesn’t appear to be any plans to bring Ferguson back on the mission.

It was NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore Name take Ferguson’s place.

Viscous valves and moisture FL

Boeing thought it was ready to put the Starliner back into testing last year and scheduled a second orbital flight test attempt — this one dubbed the OFT-2 — for August.

The United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket with the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on board is seen after leaving the Vertical Integration Facility for the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission. Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Launch Station in Florida.

Other problems quickly appeared. When the spacecraft was moved to its launch pad and began performing pre-flight ground checks, engineers discovered that the Starliner’s main valves were jamming. Eventually, Boeing announced that the problem could not be fixed on the launch pad and that the entire vehicle needed to be returned to the assembly building for troubleshooting.

In mid-August, Boeing gave up trying to solve the problems on the ground. Starliner was supposed to be shipped to the Boeing factory.

In press conferences ahead of the test battle on Thursday, Boeing officials revealed they will be flying the OFT-2 this week with a ‘near-term’ review, but the company may choose to redesign the system eventually.

other cases

In addition to questions surrounding Boeing’s safety practices when the Starliner returns to the launch pad this week, a recent Reuters report shed light on a previously ignored lawsuit against Boeing last year by a subcontractor who was allegedly partially amputated after a crash before the 2017 Starliner. parachute test.

Boeing confirmed in a statement that a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the employee and the contractor. “The matter has been resolved by all parties, and the terms of the agreement are confidential,” the statement said.

Court documents confirm that the case was resolved in December 2021.

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