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HomeBlogBehind Boeing’s decade-long struggle to launch astronauts on Starliner

Behind Boeing’s decade-long struggle to launch astronauts on Starliner

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft transports astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing began developing the capsule in 2014, when it signed a $4.2 billion contract with NASA through the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA also chose SpaceX for the job, awarding Elon Musk’s company $2.6 billion to develop the Crew Dragon capsule.

“The Commercial Crew Program was entirely new,” said Caleb Henry, Quilty Space’s director of research. “Prior to that, NASA relied on a lot of its own engineering talent to get humans to the space station.”

Henry stated that the program allowed NASA to delegate “some of those responsibilities to the private sector.”

“There was some reticence in Congress towards this type of approach,” he stated. “It was only because Boeing threw its hat in the ring that Congress and by extension, NASA, were confident enough to actually go forward with this program.”

In the decade since, Boeing has struggled to complete the six missions it has contracted to fly with NASA.

Boeing has spent $1.5 billion of the nearly $5 billion it has received to develop the Starliner so far to cover delay overruns. Boeing recently launched its final test, a milestone crewed mission, which it must complete before NASA can certify Starliner for operational missions.

Since 2020, SpaceX has launched over a dozen crewed missions to space, including NASA astronauts and private citizens.

Watch the video to learn more about the challenges Boeing has faced with its Starliner project and what the future holds for the much-anticipated capsule.



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