Boeing Delays Crewed Starliner Launch

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Boeing’s Starliner program has been dealt another delay. The first manned flight of the “astronaut taxi” was previously scheduled for July 21 but by early June was delayed “indefinitely” as the company found new issues with the Starliner’s wiring and parachute system. While NASA officials were hopeful that the launch could be rescheduled for this fall, it’s now being pushed back to next March.

The parachute links were found to have a load limit lower than intended that could cause a failure if the craft were to depend on two of the three parachutes. The Starliner is also reported to have “hundreds” of feet of flammable anti-chafe tape on its wiring. In June, Boeing said it would encapsulate the suspect wiring rather than try to remove all of the protective material.

At a press conference today, Mark Nappi, Starliner VP and program manager, said, “Based on the current plans, we’re anticipating that we’re going to be ready with the spacecraft in early March.” Other reports highlight the fact that this is not a firm launch date because of the needed coordination with NASA and the United Launch Alliance. Nappi said that “we’ll work throughout the next several weeks and see where we can get fit in and then we’ll set a launch date.”

Starliner has had two flights so far in three attempts. One flight attempted in August of 2022 failed to launch, while the flight in December 2019 failed to reach the International Space Station. An unmanned Starliner docked with the ISS in May 2022.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Did no one at Boeing see these problems in the design or prototyping phases? This company seems to have problems bringing their their products online. 737 MAX, KC-46A, and now this. Curious doings in Seattle.

      • Not even Chicago any more. HQ is now Arlington, VA. That way they can be even closer to the government, and as far as possible from manufacturing!

    • I would be interested in seeing what the design specifications were for parachute links. I would then be interested to see how this made it through any real design review, or was it just pencil whipped. Sounds like a young engineer I dealt with many years ago, he wanted a design release before details on a critical part of the assembly was finished, he didn’t get his way.

    • Did’ja ever notice that only people of a particular political persuasion use the word “woke” (ob. quotes) in a totally irrelevant comment on a non-political topic? It’s become the discussion group equivalent of, “Ignore me. I have nothing to contribute.”

      • But you see in the minds of those people everything is connected and they are personally the lynchpin to all kinds of world events. In clinical psychology its a concept known as “ideas of reference.”

      • Unfortunately, this forum has been overrun by many whom are uneducated in aerospace and disrespectful to the spirit of this column’s intent. I hope to someday see the return of quality comments by aviators and other knowledgeable contributors.

    • You’re right! We need to get back to the days when only white guys designed and built the platforms. You know, the ones who gave us the Apollo 1 crew hatch and the B-747 center tank wiring. Now, if we can only get Airbus, SpaceX, Virgin, Bombardier, etc. to keep their inclusion policies while Boeing reverts to the ’60s, then Boeing might have a fighting chance…

    • This is an aerospace forum. Can ya please keep it professional, even keeled, on topic, neutral, fair minded and intelligent for Pete’s sake?

    • LOL! Good one! Instead of focusing on what is important they waste time with BS. Delays, delays, delays…

        • They were not. They were paid substantially more than SpaceX since Boeing was the ‘sure thing’ contractor.

          SpaceX is about to complete their original operational contract and has been given another, starting with the 7th operational NASA crewed launch in the coming weeks. They have also flown 3 private crewed missions, with more in the coming months.

  2. if I was the boss of Boeing I would want my office to be in Seatle not Chicago. They are letting the inmates run the prison.

    • Shocked to see they’re using flammable stuff in the crew compartment. Does no one remember the apollo mission that fricaseed the guys, on the pad?

      Oh wait, that was also faked, just like Armstrong’s small step?

      • The original plan was to save a lot of money by faking it. They hired Stanley Kubrick to create the whole thing, but of course, he insisted the filming must be done on location on the moon.

        Nothing else would do.

  3. Boeing has been going downhill ever since they filled their C-suite with leftovers from GE. GE invented news ways of counting the same old dollars everyone else uses, but theirs made them the darling of Wall Street. Until they learned that no matter how many ways you look at or count a dollar bill, it’s still just one dollar. And that’s when everything came tumbling down (remember GE Capital?) GE was a charter member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the bluest of the blue chips. And now? Broken up into a bunch of smaller pieces.

    But all that was in the future when GE execs joined Boeing, bent on “enhancing shareholder value.” And they certainly did, boosting the stock price from $44 to $440 in less than 20 years. Then their stock nosedived along with a pair of 737’s because some cheap engineers forgot they should rely on “pitch + power = performance” to cross-check when a SINGLE sensor failed and decided the plane needed to go down, like right now.

    Rick Durden wrote an “Open Letter to Boeing” on AvWeb back in 2001. He was worried about Boeing’s future. Re-reading it today, he was spot on in his concern.

    https://www.avweb.com/features/an-open-letter-to-boeing/

    • Yeah. That letter was spicy. And also mostly prescient. Like the spice melange…

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      Don’t act like you nerds don’t know what I’m referencing!

      • Dune Trilogy: Books great – at least when I read them 50 years ago, when age 20. But movies terrible.

  4. Are they trying to ‘McGiver’ their way out of this ? This will really make the crews feel confident…

  5. It’s kind of hard to see that, 60 years into space exploration, Boeing is still making the same mistakes that were made in the Apollo series of capsules. I realize that most, if not all, of the original engineers are gone, but surely they wrote most of these design issues down for future reference. It appears that Boeing is the same as Lockheed – too many subs in too many congressional districts so that no politician is likely to cancel their contracts and give them to someone who knows better.

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