Can Scandal-Plagued Boeing Handle Ferrying Astronauts to ISS?

Transporting humans to the International Space Station (ISS) is practically second nature, but Boeing is about to embark on a crucial test flight with two crew members after years of postponement.

In 2014, Space X earned $2.6 billion to construct and operate a spaceship to serve the station, while Boeing was granted a $ 4.2 billion contract.

Both awards were given to American firms through the Commercial Crew Program, which NASA established to allow them to transport people to the station.

The stakes are very high for Boeing. In contrast to SpaceX’s eight operational crews and one crewed test mission that it conducted in 2020, Boeing has only been able to conduct two unmanned flights.

Last summer, the crew was supposed to launch Boeing’s new Starliner capsule. However, an issue was found with the parachute system and the usage of flammable tape, so a mile of it was removed. This was just the latest setback among several delays.

On May 6th at 10:34 PM Eastern time, the Starliner was scheduled to take off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

It didn’t.

A stuck valve on the spacecraft’s rocket caused the United Launch Alliance to report that Boeing’s first astronaut-crewed journey into space had been canceled.

May 8th at 10:11 PM Eastern time is the Starliner’s next potential launch window, but that’s still up in the air.

The Starliner can accommodate a crew of seven, but for this test mission, NASA astronauts Sunita Williams (58), formerly of the Navy, and Barry Wilmore (61), a retired U.S. Navy captain, will be the pilots.

Prior to the postponement, the capsule’s original arrival time at the ISS was 26 hours, and they were scheduled to spend almost a week at the station.

The Boeing satellite factory in El Segundo, California, has the potential to produce sixty satellites per year by the end of the year.

Since its 2018 acquisition by Boeing, Millennium Space Systems has increased its workforce from 200 to 1,000, with 800 workers based out of Boeing’s diminutive El Segundo satellite facility.