No earlier than April 2024: NASA and Boeing tell about the first manned flight of the Starliner

NASA and Boeing confirmed that the manned flight of the Starliner spacecraft with a crew would take place no earlier than April 2024. Thus, it will take place almost five years after its first unmanned test.

CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Source: Boeing/John Grant

The CST-100 Starliner is a spacecraft with a rather complex fate. At the moment, two unmanned tests of the spacecraft have taken place. The first one was held in December 2019 and was only partially successful. Due to the incorrect operation of the engines, the spacecraft could not dock with the ISS and returned to Earth ahead of schedule.

The second test took place in May 2022. This time, the spacecraft managed to dock with the ISS, although not without some problems. Nevertheless, according to its results, NASA approved the first flight of the Starliner with a crew. However, it did not take place either in 2022 or 2023. The last series of postponements was caused by problems with the parachute system of the spacecraft, as well as the tape used for winding wires, which turned out to be flammable.

Currently, NASA and Boeing are working to eliminate the identified shortcomings. In particular, the company’s specialists are engaged in the removal of a recognized dangerous tape. It is expected that these works will be completed within the next few weeks.

The company has also prepared an updated set of parachutes, which is planned to be installed on the Starliner by the end of this year. And at the beginning of 2024, Boeing and NASA plan to conduct a test with the dropping of the capsule of the spacecraft to test the effectiveness of their function. Its success should finally pave the way for the first flight of the Starliner. At the moment, it is scheduled for April 2024. 

The manned flight of the Starliner is important not only from the point of view of Boeing’s prestige but also for financial reasons. At the moment, the spacecraft has brought the company over a billion dollars in losses. New postponements will lead to even more financial losses, so Boeing is vitally interested in Starliner starting regular flights to the ISS as soon as possible.

According to

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