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Boeing Says Starliner Cargo Is Just as Astronaut as Everybody Else, Must Pay

After nearly a decade of having its astronauts launch to space from foreign soil and onboard foreign machines, America is getting ready to put to good use not one, but three homebred space vehicles. And as in any field with such competition, NASA, Boeing and SpaceX egos run amok from time to time.
Boeing Starliner 1 photo
After the successful launch and return from the International Space Station (ISS) of the SpaceX Crew Dragon earlier this year, it’s now time for Boeing’s build, the Starliner, to be put through its paces. The spaceship has already survived a pad abort test at the beginning of the month, as it getting ready for the first actual test flight come December 17.

Boeing’s success and upcoming mission have however been shadowed by a report issued by the NASA Inspector General, a report that seems to have gotten the aerospace giant very upset.

In short, the Inspector General overviewed NASA’s crew transportation plans for the future in an attempt to determine, among other things, the costs involved. And it found that using the Starliner is much more expensive than SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

More to the point, the report, which was published last week, shows the American space agency will pay Boeing $90 million for each astronaut flying the Starliner, compared to just $55 million paid for the Crew Dragon.

For reference, NASA currently pays the Russian space agency Roscosmos a little over $55 million per seat in the Soyuz spaceships.

The above values are based on the billions the two companies will receive over the lifetime of the commercial crew program, and takes into account four seats per flight.

In a very angry statement released on Monday, Boeing lashes out at the Inspector General and rejects the claim in a somewhat peculiar manner.

Boeing says that yes, it will fly four astronauts into space, but it will carry in the Starliner cargo as well, and that means per-seat pricing should be considered based on five seats rather than four. In Boeing’s view, that results in “average seat pricing below the figure cited.”

You can have a look at Boeing’s defensive statement in the press release section below.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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