Another Delay, But Boeing Aims for Crewed Launch to ISS

Image (Credit): Artist’s rendering of Boeing’s Starliner capsule. (Boeing)

So what is the status of Boeing’s Starliner? Last May, an uncrewed Starliner capsule safely arrived at the International Space Station (ISS). So when will we see a crewed mission? The latest plan was for an April launch after some technical issues back in February.

However, in a tweet on Thursday, Kathy Lueders, who serves as NASA’s human spaceflight chief, stated:

Boeing We’re adjusting the @Space_Station schedule including the launch date for our Boeing Crew Flight Test as teams assess readiness and complete verification work. CFT now will launch following Axiom Mission 2 for optimized station operations…Target launch dates for Ax-2, still planned in early May, and Starliner will be shared soon. We’ll plan a media update after we have the space station schedule set. As always, we will fly when we are ready.

So first the private Ax-2 mission (also called space tourism) needs to occur, and then NASA can fit in another Starliner mission in May or later so that we have greater redundancy in our travel to the ISS, which was the purpose of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Given the issues with recent Russian Soyuz mission, this extra capacity cannot come soon enough. I just hope Starliner “technical issues” and not space tourism is responsible for this latest delay.