Boeing Starliner docks with space station for NASA

After troubleshooting the problem, a final push from the thrusters pushed it into contact with the docking port. After a successful retu...

After troubleshooting the problem, a final push from the thrusters pushed it into contact with the docking port.

After a successful return from orbit and landing, Boeing will still have additional work to do, including investigating and resolving issues encountered during this flight. It must also complete certification of the spacecraft’s parachutes, before NASA approves Starliner to carry astronauts. An independent safety committee overseeing NASA expressed concern last week that Boeing did not have enough people working on the program.

“The panel will be monitoring the situation in the near future to see what impact, if any, it may have on the existence or mitigation of any security risk,” said David B. West, member of the security council. .

After a crewed demonstration mission taking two of NASA’s three astronauts to the space station, Starliner would begin regular operations, taking crews of four into orbit. NASA projects that SpaceX and Boeing will each fly one crew mission per year.

However, Boeing will not, in the short term, be able to tap into non-NASA business the way SpaceX has done, launching two private citizen missions into orbit in the past year. On the one hand, the Boeing vehicle is considerably more expensive. In 2019, NASA’s Inspector General estimated that NASA pays $90 million for each Starliner seat while a seat on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon costs $55 million.

Additionally, Boeing does not have access to the rockets needed to perform Starliner missions beyond what NASA requires. Currently, the spacecraft launches atop an Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance. But the Atlas 5 is powered by Russian-made RD-180 engines. In 2016, Congress moved to require that RD-180s be phased out. Boeing has enough Atlas 5 rockets to fulfill its obligations to NASA – the crewed test flight and six operational flights – but no more.

Starliner can fly on other rockets, including Vulcan, the successor to the Atlas 5. But the Vulcan, which has yet to make its first flight, has not been certified for crewed missions.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Boeing Starliner docks with space station for NASA
Boeing Starliner docks with space station for NASA
Newsrust - US Top News
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