The space economy is heating up, and the Boeing Starliner is a critical component of this new space era.
But what is the Boeing Starliner Project all about, and what role does it play in the new space era?
The Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner Spacecraft
Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft with NASA and its Commercial Crew Program. Remember that Starliner is a vehicle that may house seven passengers or contain passengers plus cargo. The transportation spacecraft would be focused on transportation between Earth and low-Earth orbit. The corporation states, “the Starliner has an innovative, weldless structure and is reusable up to 10 times with six-month turnaround time. It also features wireless internet and tablet technology for crew interfaces.”
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The three main points here are: reusable, six month turnaround time, and added technology capabilities for missions. The first two points are big deals, as it shows that significant improvements around costs and efficiencies are taking place within the space transportation segment. Those improvements create significant value.
Boeing and its involvement in these space missions show further interest and growth in commercial space expansion.
“The Starliner is setting the foundation for commercial passenger spaceflight services to and from low-Earth orbit. NASA is Boeing’s anchor customer for the Starliner, beginning with missions to the International Space Station carrying NASA and NASA-sponsored crew members.”
NASA has been relying heavily on the prospect of commercials vessels being able to take over the organization’s latest dependency on the Russian Soyuz.
The Recent Test Flight
The test flight would show whether the new Starliner ship was ready to transport astronauts between Earth and the Space Station. The company, Boeing, has received funding from Commercial Crew Program for around $4.2 billion in mid-2014. Space X also received similar financing of its Crew Dragon, a capsule which showed stellar results in its test flight back in March.
The mission did begin as expected; the liftoff was fine except for the problem in the timer.
Even though the test flight only picked up on software issues, the team at Boeing must make sure to fix and resolve all issues to minimize potential disasters.
The capsule on automated functioning thought it was time to initiate the big orbit insertion burn, which is the action that leads it to the Space Station, it began to fire its thrusters at the wrong time. It burned too much fuel by the time the mission team got to it.
NASA’s TDRS was also an issue as NASA could not send commands through to it, which is what one would assume led to the delayed action by the mission team to fix the problem. According to the NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, the mission would have been a tremendous success if this issue did not take place.
Boeing will carry out six Boeing crew rotation missions, as ordered by NASA. The organizations are looking forward to the next crewed flight test but still must pore over the current data before taking the next step.