Boeing’s Starliner Delayed Again

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Boeing hasn’t been having such a good year, thus far. The company has been dealing with challenge after challenge, from a large number of their commercial planes fleet being grounded because of two crashes, which claimed hundreds of lives, to the NASA contract, where they are required to deliver a crewed spacecraft which is costing way more than anticipated and resulting in serious delays. NASA, after numerous days of whispers, have officially announced that the Boeing Starliner delivery has been delayed.

NASA released new schedules Aug. 2 for test flights by Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner (left) and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Credit: Boeing/SpaceX

Along with the Starliner, the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was supposed to be NASA’s next ticket to deploying astronauts into deep space, all without paying for assistance from Russia, but this has only resulted in a long and bumpy ride. Just to try to salvage any of the work done and the tremendous amount of money already put into this project, NASA was forced into extending the agreement with Boeing on the Starliner or come up with nothing to show for the huge investment made.

© REUTERS/Eric M. Johnson A Boeing testing equipment is seen at its CST-100 Starliner capsule production facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., January 15, 2019. Picture taken on January 15, 2019. REUTERS/Eric M. Johnson

Boeing and NASA have both agreed to extend the length of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station after they have completed an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems, NASA has revealed that they believe the lengthy flight to be technically feasible and it is also in the best interest of the agency to ensure that they is continued access and much better utilization of the orbiting laboratory.

© Phelan M. Ebenhack/For The Washington Post via Getty Images CAPE CANAVERAL, FL-JANUARY 27: Boeing propulsion engineer Monica Hopkins climbs out of a mockup of the CST-100 Starliner crew module, while wearing a newly-designed spacesuit, during an exclusive look at some of the things that Boeing is doing as they prepare to fly astronauts from their facilities in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Although this release sounds very positive and upbeat, it is in fact a terrible admission of failure on Boeing’s part, which as history would show has been consistently coming up short as it relates to the milestones for the Starliner. NASA is invested in the program and really wants the Straliner to work, as its investment needs reliable transportation for its astronauts, that will be making trips to and from the International Space Station, however, NASA now has been forced to wait much longer than anticipated and spend even more money to ensure the program is successful.

An artist’s conception shows Boeing’s Starliner capsule and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft. (NASA Graphic)

With all this, SpaceX is now clearly ahead of its competition, even though they also failed to meet the predetermined deadlines with its Crew Dragon capsule, however, they have successfully conducted an unmanned test flight to the International Space Station or ISS. It was just last year that many analysts assumed that Boeing would handily beat Elon Musk’s team in delivering a spacecraft to NASA, but things have shifted dramatically in the months since.

Astronaut Chris Ferguson trains in the Boeing Starliner mock-up at NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston.Photo: Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton.

Currently, Boeing has not scheduled any test flights for an unmanned launch, not until late this summer or even fall of this year, and trying to squeeze in a manned launch anytime before the end of this year seems very unlikely and somewhat of a huge stretch.