Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test Set for 2021, Astronaut Replaced

Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon 1 photo
Photo: NASA
There are two privately-built spacecraft currently in development, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner. But even if both started off at about the same time, SpaceX’s hardware managed to get in front of its rival.
The Crew Dragon already flew to the ISS both uncrewed and with people on board, and it nailed both missions. The next one is scheduled for later this month, when four people will take a trip to space in it heading to the ISS.

The Starliner on the other hand had it a bit rougher. In December 2019 the capsule went on its first voyage, an uncrewed mission to the ISS. Because of a software error that caused the spaceship to believe it was in an orbital insertion burn, when it was not, docking failed and the mission was abandoned. Starliner did manage though to nail the airbag landing at the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico – and that’s something no other astronaut-capable capsule has done before.

Sometime in 2021 (the date is for now set for June) the Starliner will take off with people on board. The initial crew was made up of Mike Fincke, Nicole Mann, and Chris Ferguson, but since the latter decided, for personal reason, to skip this mission, his place will be taken by Barry “Butch” Wilmore.

The fact that private companies have decided to build spacecraft for NASA astronauts freed the agency’s hand to focus on the Artemis program. The Space Launch System rocket, the Orion capsule, the Gateway lunar space station and even an on-the-ground base on the Moon should be all up at running, at intervals, by the end of this decade.

Then comes the real test, humanity’s first expedition to Mars, which is, by all intents and purposes, heavily dependent on the success of the Artemis program.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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