First Launch Of Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Delayed


Boeing said this week it’s behind schedule on development of its manned spacecraft, which could give competitor SpaceX the edge on being the first U.S. company to launch people into orbit since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle several years ago. Boeing has now postponed a first unmanned flight of the CST-100 Starliner for the second time this year, with a launch now slated for 2018 instead of 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported. Boeing is developing the Starliner under a $4.2 billion NASA contract, while SpaceX is working on its Dragon spacecraft under a $2.6 billion contract.

Engineering issues for the Starliner lie in the emergency launch-pad abort tests. Still, a Boeing official said the company is on “a very aggressive schedule” and “pedaling as quickly as we can” while ensuring that the spacecraft will be safe to fly, the Journal reported. When the contracts were announced in 2014,the abort tests were originally slated to take place this year. The capsule-shaped Starliner, designed to carry up to seven people into orbit and dock at the International Space Station, would be equipped with parachutes and airbags to allow for landings on the ground, making it reusable up to 10 times. NASA is requiring that the manned vehicles are capable of launching aboard their own rockets and docking with the ISS for multiple missions.