The aerospace agency’s spokesman Jerry Drelling announced that Boeing is scheduling a second flight of its Starliner capsule, once again with no crew, probably this fall. If that goes according to plan, the company will be able to allow astronauts to climb on board of the next mission.
The Starliner’s launch in December of 2019 was flawed with numerous software issues. The capsule ended up in a wrong orbit and, therefore, was not able to reach the International Space Station (ISS) as programmed. Investigators later found that the vehicle could have been completely damaged in flight, not once, but twice, because of the grave mistakes made during the design and flight.
“Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer,” the aerospace company said in a statement.
NASA Will Fly Astronauts to the ISS as Soon as May
Boeing has stated earlier this year that it required about $140 million USD charge in its four-quarter revenue in order to pay for a potential repeat test. However, it only makes sense that the flight is repeated before astronauts can climb on board of the vehicle.
NASA has contracted Boeing, as well as renowned SpaceX, to carry American astronauts to and from the space station. This program would ease the agency’s costly dependence on Russian rockets like Soyuz for launching crews.
SpaceX is currently on track to debut its first crewed flight composed of two NASA astronauts on board of its Crew Dragon capsule next month. It will be the first human take-off from Cape Canaveral since the space agency’s shuttle program closed down back in 2011.
SpaceX intends to launch the rocket in mid-to-late May. Its first test flight of the Crew Dragon capsule took place a year ago, with no crew, and was a successful flight.