SpaceX has previously proved that it’s far better at developing human-carrying spacecraft than Boeing. Now its hectic procedure program is truly hampering Boeing’s exertion to capture up. SpaceX has so numerous missions scheduled to get there at the Worldwide Area Station in the coming months that there are no docking ports offered for Boeing to conduct test flights with.
SpaceX and Boeing are equally contractors underneath NASA’s Industrial Crew Application, tasked with making a reusable rocket-spacecraft method for transporting astronauts and payloads to the ISS. SpaceX’s technique is made up of its workhorse Falcon 9 booster and a new capsule referred to as Dragon, and Boeing is developing a capsule known as Starliner to be introduced atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
SpaceX sent the Dragon capsule final Could and has efficiently flown 6 astronauts to the room station via two missions. Boeing, by distinction, is still battling to carry Starliner off the floor.
A critical impending exam is to start an uncrewed CST-100 Starliner capsule to the ISS, have it docked at one of the station’s ports for a week, and fly it back to Earth. The examination, identified as OFT-2, was scheduled for this thirty day period. But Boeing may possibly have to press it again to July or August owing to a “traffic jam” close to the ISS’s docking ports in the coming weeks.
Boeing’s Starliner has to been docked at a port with an intercontinental docking adapter. There are only two this kind of ports on the area station. A single of them is at the moment occupied by the Dragon capsule made use of in SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, released last November. The other port will be occupied by another Dragon capsule on April 22 when SpaceX launches its Crew-2 mission carrying 4 astronauts. The Crew-2 car or truck will stay attached to the area station for six months. And quickly just after Crew-1 returns to Earth on April 28, a SpaceX cargo mission is set to start on June 3 occupy the vacated port till mid-July.
That leaves Boeing about a one particular-thirty day period window in May perhaps to carry out the Starliner exam. Otherwise, it will have to hold out until July.
A May well launch appears not likely, considering the fact that Boeing has not offered any updates on the exam considering the fact that early March. Two NASA sources explained to Ars Technica that Starliner is “close” to remaining prepared, with only a number of tiny exams remaining to certify the spacecraft for flight.
“Based on the current website traffic at the house station, NASA does not foresee that OFT-2 can be achieved afterwards in April. NASA and Boeing are doing work to come across the earliest feasible start date,” Boeing stated in a assertion dated March 4.
Boeing’s previous attempt to exam Starliner was in December 2019. An uncrewed Starliner unsuccessful to arrive at the ISS and returned to Earth in a shortened check flight.