Why SpaceX Will (Probably) Put People in Space Before Boeing
The test flight in question aimed to send an uncrewed CST-100 “Starliner” spacecraft to the International Space Station and back, laying the groundwork for a crewed mission to carry honest-to-goodness astronauts to ISS early this year.
Unfortunately, a computer glitch on the spacecraft failed to fire the Starliner’s engines at the correct time. As a result, Starliner never made it to ISS, and had to return to land ignominiously back on Earth, its mission largely a failure. For months afterward, Boeing negotiated with NASA, arguing back and forth about whether the company should be allowed to proceed with a crewed mission in hopes that having astronauts aboard this time will prevent a recurrence. Ultimately, though, NASA decided that Boeing would have to re-do its initial test flight, and prove its spacecraft is capable of glitch-free automated flying.
Last week, Boeing finally agreed. At a cost of $410 million, it will refly the uncrewed “Orbital Flight Test,” probably in October or November this year.
So what does this mean now for Boeing — and for SpaceX, its archrival in spaceflight?