Commercial Plane Maker Boeing Will Launch 'Starliner' Space Capsule in 2018
One of the most popular commercial plane makers, Boeing is now engaged in building spacecrafts. They are set to launch their first space capsule which is created in partnership with NASA to help transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). Their first space capsule is called the CST-100 Starliner.
The CST-100 Starliner is being developed under the Boeing Commercial Crew & Cargo Processing Facility. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the test flight was moved to 2018 instead of the original plan of launching the spacecraft on the third quarter of 2017.
"We're working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018," Leanne Caret, Boeing's executive vice president, said in an interview with GeekWire.
NASA is lenient with the delay and concurred that in the development of space capsule which will transport men, safety is of utmost importance rather than speed.
"These are complex crew space transportation system development programs, and it is expected that our partners will encounter challenges along the way," said Tabatha Thompson, a spokeswoman at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The 6-month delay could be attributed to the issues regarding the mass and aero acoustic of the space capsule. But regardless of the slip in the original launch schedule, Boeing is proud to have ventured into the space flight technology.
Boeing's Starliner is funded by NASA and they were allotted $4.2 billion to build the capsule which can transport astronauts it and out of the Earth.
Boeing describes the CST-100 Starliner as a 21st century space capsule. According to their website, Starliner can accommodate up to 7 passengers in low-orbit destinations like the International Space Station (ISS). It will also feature innovative, weld-less design and LED 'sky lighting' feature and wireless internet technology for the crew.
According to Florida Today, commercial plane makers like Boeing and SpaceX can provide alternative transport for astronauts. Today, only the Souyuz spacecraft have the capability to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.
But despite the setbacks, Boeing is confident that they will able to transport astronauts in space.
"We've been working some challenges with mass and with the aerodynamic loads on the vehicle, and we seem to have good solutions for those now," said John Elbon, vice president and general manager of Boeing's space exploration division in an interview with Spaceflight Now.