Boeing says it’ll redo uncrewed flight test of Starliner space taxi to space station

Alan Boyle
An artist’s conception shows Boeing’s Starliner space taxi in orbit. (Boeing Illustration)

Boeing says it will redo the uncrewed test flight of its Starliner space taxi to the International Space Station, after months of reviewing what went wrong during a flight that fell short of the mark. NASA said it supported Boeing’s decision.

  • Last December’s Starliner tryout, known as the Orbital Flight Test, failed to rendezvous with the space station when the craft’s onboard flight software misread a timing cue and couldn’t execute a crucial thruster burn properly. The mission was cut short, and the spacecraft landed autonomously two days after launch.
  • Additional software lapses came to light during and after the mission, including communication dropouts as well as a glitch that could have ruined the craft’s re-entry. That glitch was fixed with just hours to spare. An independent review found 61 corrective actions that needed to be taken.
  • In today’s statement, Boeing said a repeat of the flight would allow the Starliner team “to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer.” Boeing has set aside $410 million to cover the cost of the reflight, which will set the stage for Starliner’s first crewed flight.

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