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Boeing’s Starliner starts with engine problems


The Starliner became a mockery of the internet community shortly before the current flight: It was seen in a video shared on Twitter, how the space capsule loses a part while being transported to the launch pad. One user commented, “Sure, this baby is going to be flying at Mach 25 one day, so why should we be upset that the cover came off at 15mph?” And since the space capsule will eventually fly space tourists into space as well wants, another tweeted: “You couldn’t pay me enough to ride that thing, because dead men spend no money.” « However, in order to limit the damage to its image, Boeing quickly announced that the part that had fallen off was merely a protective cover for the Starliner windows.

Despite the bankruptcies, bad luck and mishaps, the US space agency actually has big plans for the space capsule. In 2014, Boeing signed the associated multi-billion dollar contract with NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. According to a brochure on the project, Boeing is developing “the future of space exploration”. The CST-100 Starliner is being built to ensure the US has redundant launch capability for ISS crews. Behind this is NASA’s efforts to no longer be dependent on the Russian space station for transport flights to the ISS. So far, however, Boeing has not been able to contribute anything. The competitor SpaceX, with whom NASA concluded a similar agreement in 2014, is quite different: the Dragon 2 capsule has already brought astronauts to the space laboratory four times.

The crew has been ready for a long time

But if the Starliner’s second test flight is successful, Boeing will soon be able to operate its astronaut taxi. The passengers are already waiting – for so long that some are no longer there. In 2018, NASA selected three pilots for the first manned test mission. Due to the delays, two of them have now been replaced by others for health reasons. The third is already assigned to the fifth SpaceX mission. The same happened to part of the crew selected for the second manned Starliner flight. The Starliner contract with NASA stipulates that up to four astronauts should be brought to the ISS six times after the manned test flight into space.

In addition, according to the contract, Boeing can sell one seat per flight to a well-heeled space enthusiast. It is not yet certain what a passage will cost. However, the price will probably be in similar ranges to SpaceX: namely around 50 million dollars. However, it remains doubtful whether the course of the Starliner missions so far has contributed to attracting affluent customers.





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