Boeing’s Starliner Focuses on NASA Missions, Eyes Future Private Spaceflights

Boeing’s Starliner, currently prioritizing NASA missions, contemplates future private spaceflights. Key details and upcoming plans revealed.

Reports from April 27 indicate that Boeing’s Starliner project manager, Mark Nappi, has confirmed the company’s complete dedication to NASA’s inaugural crewed space mission, which aims to transport NASA astronauts into orbit.

He noted that while future missions might include private astronauts using the Starliner spacecraft for space exploration, the immediate priority remains NASA’s crewed space flights.

Boeing’s team for this mission includes NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who are scheduled to launch no later than May 6 on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

“At the moment, this flight test is our primary focus,” stated Nappi during a press conference. He added that after this mission, Boeing will concentrate on manufacturing additional spacecraft for subsequent missions that are projected to occur 6 to 7 times to transport NASA astronauts.

Boeing Starliner space capsule

Furthermore, he mentioned that while private missions are conceivable, they are not currently a priority, as the focus is on NASA missions until the expected retirement of the International Space Station in 2030, providing ample time to plan for future endeavors.

Significantly, since 2019, recurring technical issues with the Starliner spacecraft have delayed its crewed flight test by four years and have led Boeing to accumulate unexpected expenses totaling US$1.4 billion (equivalent to about RMB 10.164 billion).

Following extensive repairs, the Starliner’s second uncrewed test flight successfully completed a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station in 2022. However, the crewed flight test was postponed again in 2023 due to critical issues found with the parachute system.

Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, praised the collaborative efforts of NASA, Boeing, ULA, and all contractors involved for resolving the numerous challenges, completing certification, and reaching the current stage of readiness.

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According to the latest updates, Wilmore and Williams, both ex-US Navy test pilots, have reached Kennedy Space Center to begin their quarantine and preparations for the crewed flight test.

They are tasked with conducting extensive inspections of the spacecraft and all systems, which includes significant manual piloting and testing of emergency procedures, such as the activation of solar panels, to ensure the Starliner spacecraft is certified for a six-month mission.

Should the crewed flight test proceed as expected, the initial mission, dubbed Starliner-1, is slated to commence in early 2025. This mission will feature NASA astronauts Mike Fink and Scott Tingle, alongside Joshua Kutrick from the Canadian Space Agency.

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Ankit is a geek from New Delhi who loves smartphones, games and everything tech. When he's not busy writing here you can find him playing PUBG on his phone!

Boeing’s Starliner Focuses on NASA Missions, Eyes Future Private Spaceflights

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