During the last years many expectations have been created around the Boeing Starliner, the spacecraft designed by Boeing and which, once operational, will be capable of carrying out flights to the International Space Station, as well as to other infrastructures of this type, both present and future. Boeing got down to business in 2010, when it received $ 18 million from NASA for preliminary development of the spacecraft. Since then, the US aerospace giant has made progress on the project, having to contend with some problems.
The result of this is that, despite the fact that its first flight to the International Space Station was scheduled for 2019, to this day it has not yet been possible for the Starliner to be able to fly to the ISS. The flight scheduled for July 30 finally had to be postponed after a problem was detected on the plane. Finally, it has been known that this problem is related to the isolation of the oxidant used for combustion in engines. At first there was talk of a launch for December 2021, but finally it has been delayed to sometime in 2022.
The original planning, even with this summer’s delay, pointed to the Starliner’s first manned mission to the International Space Station next year, but finally, as we can read on Business Insider, these plans have had to be canceled, as a result of which NASA has contracted three new flights with SpaceX for 2022. These three flights are in addition to those already scheduled by Elon Musk’s company. Thus, for the coming year, SpaceX will continue to be the only company that NASA will rely on to send its crews to the ISS.
This does not mean, however, that NASA and Boeing have given up on the Starliner.. As the US space agency has already stated, having more than one company capable of offering the transportation service to the International Space Station is something fundamental, since it means having the service guaranteed even in the event that one of the companies and / or their ships suffer some problem for which, even temporarily, they have to suspend their service. Be it the Starliner or the Dragon Crew, the US always wants to have its “own” means of launch and transport.
Kathy Lueders, NASA Associate Administrator, said: “It is critical that we begin securing additional flights to the space station now so that we are ready as these missions are necessary to maintain a US presence at the station.«. However, it must be remembered that during all the years in which the United States has not had the means to transport to the ISS, has relied on Russian Soyuz ships for this purpose. However, it is true that strategically, and more for the future, it will be essential to be autonomous in relation to this capacity.