We in Telegram
Add news
March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010
August 2010
September 2010 October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019 December 2019 January 2020 February 2020 March 2020 April 2020 May 2020 June 2020 July 2020 August 2020 September 2020 October 2020 November 2020 December 2020 January 2021 February 2021 March 2021 April 2021 May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 August 2021 September 2021 October 2021 November 2021 December 2021 January 2022 February 2022 March 2022 April 2022 May 2022 June 2022 July 2022 August 2022 September 2022 October 2022 November 2022 December 2022 January 2023 February 2023 March 2023 April 2023 May 2023 June 2023 July 2023 August 2023 September 2023 October 2023 November 2023 December 2023 January 2024 February 2024 March 2024 April 2024 May 2024
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
News Every Day |

The long, thorny history of Boeing's Starliner spaceship

Starliner approaching the International Space Station

If someone had told NASA a decade ago that SpaceX would build a new ride for astronauts to get to the International Space Station before Boeing, the space agency might have laughed that person out of the room. 

NASA contracted both companies in 2014 to make spaceships. SpaceX, considered a startup at the time, not only got its passenger spaceship to the finish line first, it has carried 50 people to orbit, while Boeing has continued toiling with Starliner, the company's competing project that has yet to reach certification. Since SpaceX's Crew Dragon went into service in 2020, Boeing has played a veritable game of Whac-A-Mole trying to address one engineering problem after another, most recently flammable interior tape and parachute lines that didn't meet safety standards.

Why the legacy company has struggled with the spacecraft and suffered delays isn't all that clear. Answers from Boeing leaders have been at times stunningly opaque. 

"There's a number of things that were surprises along the way that we had to overcome, so I can't pick out any one that I would point to," said Mark Nappi, the company's program manager for Starliner. "This is a typical design and development type of program, and we've done a good job of getting us to this point."

But soon Boeing will have its chance at a redemption story. For the first time, NASA astronauts will fly inside the spaceship to orbit. Test pilots Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sunita "Suni" Williams, who have each spent six months in space, will take Starliner to the station, a lab about 250 miles above Earth. 

The launch atop an Atlas V rocket is scheduled for the night of May 6 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Barring bad weather or other last-minute snags, the spaceship could blast off as early as 10:34 p.m. ET.

"If something happens to Dragon, God forbid, then we're back to asking the Russians for rides. I'm not sure that the American public has the stomach for that."

The crew will spend about eight days at the station, checking out all the spacecraft systems, before climbing back in for the ride home. Rather than plop the astronauts into the ocean as SpaceX does, Boeing will bring them home to the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. A system of parachutes and air bags will cushion the capsule's desert landing.

NASA has confidence in Boeing

Though a harrowing incident involving a panel blowing off a plane mid-air has sullied the Boeing name recently, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said he felt assured the troubles afflicting the company's aircraft division weren't a concern for this spacecraft, overseen by the company's defense and space division.

"This is a clean spaceship, and it's ready to launch," he said.

Starliner landing in New Mexico desert
The Starliner spaceship successfully landed in a New Mexico desert during an uncrewed test. Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA via Getty Images

Despite Starliner's prior challenges, Wilmore and Williams said they are unfazed by the string of mishaps and setbacks. 

"If we could go back just three years and talk about the capabilities of the spacecraft, what it was then, as envisioned, and then where it's at now, after these discoveries and the rectification of fixing all of those issues that we found, it's really leaps and bounds forward," Wilmore told Mashable during a news conference this week.

Williams added that they've talked through the concerning headlines with their families. 

"I think they're happy and proud that we've been part of the process to fix it all," she said.  

NASA crew preparing for Starliner launch
NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sunita "Suni" Williams will be the first people to fly inside the Boeing Starliner. Credit: Paul Hennessy / Anadolu via Getty Images

Why NASA outsourced spacecraft construction

Ten years ago, NASA hired billionaire Elon Musk's relatively new rocket company and Boeing, paying SpaceX just $2.6 billion and the latter $4.2 billion, to build spaceships. The plan was to create a commercial space taxi market for getting astronauts to the station. 

And it made sense to award Boeing a hefty contract: It had already begun some work on a spacecraft, and the contractor is intertwined with NASA's history of human space exploration, beginning with Project Mercury. Those close ties were reiterated as recently as a week ago by Dana Weigel, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, who reminded reporters about Boeing's role in the space station itself. 

"This isn't the only Boeing-built spacecraft we'll operate from Houston's mission control," she said. "We are looking forward to [Starliner], but we're also really proud to be operating the ISS, which is the longest continuously operational spacecraft in human history."

Starliner riding atop an Atlas V rocket
Starliner will be launched with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Credit: Aubrey Gemignani / NASA via Getty Images

Once the agency retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA was forced to tag along on Russian Soyuz rockets from Kazakhstan to get crew into space. That might have been fine, but the United States was paying upward of $86 million per ride.

"We've not had the friendliest of relationships with Russia, particularly recently, and the head of their space agency said, 'Well, NASA can go get itself a big trampoline,'" Sven Bilén, an aerospace engineering professor at Penn State, told Mashable. "As an American, the inability for us to get to space on our own spacecraft was, to me, an embarrassment." 

The need for Russia to get Americans to space ended in 2020 when SpaceX's Crew Dragon had passed all of its tests for certification, but NASA never intended to have all its eggs in Musk's basket. After the Columbia disaster, it took 2.5 years for the United States to return to spaceflight. The agency has wanted at least two vendors, so there is always a backup if one were grounded for any reason, even as the space station program nears retirement in 2031. 

Butch Wilmore practicing for Starliner launch
Barry "Butch" Wilmore is the commander of the first crewed flight for the Starliner spacecraft. Credit: NASA

The need for a plan B became clear last year when a leak on the station forced the space agency to consider a contingency of loading all the astronauts in one SpaceX spaceship to get home, should an emergency evacuation be necessary. 

"If something happens to Dragon, God forbid, then we're back to asking the Russians for rides," Bilén said. "I'm not sure that the American public has the stomach for that."

Starliner's engineering problems and delays

Starliner's first flight carrying astronauts was actually targeted for a launch seven years ago. About two years later, in December 2019, Boeing was ready to send an empty Starliner up to the station for an uncrewed maiden voyage. The spaceship, however, never made it to the station, due to a software glitch that put it on the wrong orbit, and returned to Earth without completing its mission.

Suni Williams preparing for Starliner launch
Sunita "Suni" Williams, an astronaut and test pilot, will fly Starliner for the first time. Credit: NASA

After a seven-month investigation, NASA ordered 80 corrective actions for Boeing before it could fly Starliner again. Meanwhile, SpaceX was completing the crewed test that Boeing is slated to conduct no earlier than Monday. 

The troubles only continued. Boeing set out to conduct another unpiloted test flight and geared up for a launch in 2021 when engineers found more than a dozen corroded valves in the propulsion system. Replacing those parts pushed the redo to May 2022. 

Starliner's second spaceflight was free of those major problems, but the streak of hardware issues wasn't over. Just before Boeing was going to test the spacecraft with astronauts, more problems surfaced during reviews in 2023, causing even more delays, including an extra drop test for a new parachute system. The team also removed about a mile of the flammable tape covering internal wiring in the spacecraft and replaced it, Nappi said. 

NASA launching uncrewed Boeing Starliner in 2022
An uncrewed Starliner had a successful launch and flight in 2022. Credit: Paul Hennessy / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

NASA officials said that despite the previous issues that have slowed Starliner's progress, the spacecraft has been rigorously vetted for launch readiness. Associate administrator Jim Free emphasized that the lives of Williams and Wilmore, as well as the other astronauts at the station, were most important.

"We don't take that lightly at all," he said.

Бато Багдаев

Страдания юного Аюша Булчун

MTA reveals new electric buses, charging stations in Queens

AML check crypto

Gunmen open fire and kill 4 people, including 3 foreigners, in Afghanistan's central Bamyan province

Ballroom culture coming to the Long Beach Pride Festival


Read also

Minnesota Republican Party issues surprising endorsement of BLM protest leader seeking to oust Dem senator

Yemen's Houthi rebels reportedly fire missile, hitting tanker in Red Sea

Red Sox’s Rafael Devers Finding Groove Through Power Surge

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on Today24.pro

News Every Day

Gunmen open fire and kill 4 people, including 3 foreigners, in Afghanistan's central Bamyan province

Today24.pro — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here

News Every Day

Glen Powell’s parents crash Texas movie screening to troll him

Sports today

Новости тенниса

Теннисист Медведев может спуститься на пятое место в ATP после "Мастерса" в Риме

Спорт в России и мире

Вау-эффект. Как будут выглядеть четыре стадиона Москвы после реконструкции

All sports news today

Sports in Russia today


«Динамо» подняло планку // Московский клуб вплотную приблизился к победе в РПЛ

Новости России

Game News

Шапки женские на Wildberries — скидки от 398 руб. (на новые оттенки)


News Every Day

Glen Powell’s parents crash Texas movie screening to troll him

Губернаторы России

«Пятёрочка» подарила 1 000 000 рублей Дзержинской школе по итогам «Здоровой Олимпиады»


В Москве утюгом избили армянскую блогершу, критикующую Пашиняна

Шапки женские на Wildberries — скидки от 398 руб. (на новые оттенки)

Богачев: 2024 год станет годом максимума солнечной активности

Певица Наташа Королева даст концерт в Пятигорске

Самарцы исполнили стихи и песни Булата Окуджавы

Шапки женские на Wildberries — скидки от 398 руб. (на новые оттенки)

Бывшая пассия Тимати рассказала о замершей беременности

Теннисист Медведев может спуститься на пятое место в ATP после "Мастерса" в Риме

Соболенко вышла в финал турнира WTA-1000 в Риме, в двух сетах обыграв Коллинз

Свищёв: МОК и ITF не будут реагировать на призывы наказать Хачанова

Первая ракетка Казахстана вышла в финал турнира WTA в Италии

Аллею истории, скверы и детские площадки благоустроят в Амурской области

Женщина в Москве лишилась украшений после визита проститутки к ее сожителю


Шапки женские на Wildberries — скидки от 398 руб. (на новые оттенки)

RPG Battle of Souls доступна в Google Play 2 стран

Обращение Аршака Карапетяна к соотечественникам

Страдания юного Аюша Булчун

Страдания юного Аюша Булчун

В Москве утюгом избили армянскую блогершу, критикующую Пашиняна

«Фекально-оральным путем»: какие вирусы можно подхватить в общественном туалете

Синоптики пообещали москвичам ясную и теплую погоду без осадков 19 мая

Доверие и сотрудничество: юбилейный форум «Россия – Исламский мир»

Путин в России и мире

Персональные новости Russian.city

«Справляюсь только медикаментозно»: мать Тимати призналась в тяжелом недуге

News Every Day

AML check crypto

Friends of Today24

Музыкальные новости

Персональные новости