Boeing delays its astronaut trips to 2018

Image: Boeing Starliner hull
The hull of a CST-100 Starliner structural test vehicle is assembled inside Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

A top Boeing executive said today that the company plans to start sending crews into orbit aboard its CST-100 Starliner space taxi in 2018, which represents a slight delay in NASA’s previous development schedule.

“We’re working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018,” Leanne Caret, who is Boeing’s executive vice president as well as president and chief executive officer of Boeing’s defense, space and security division, said at a briefing for investors.

Previously, Boeing said both test flights, uncrewed and crewed, were scheduled for 2017. Just this week, Aviation Week reported that Boeing was sticking to the 2017 schedule, even though it’s been working through challenges related to the mass of the spacecraft and aeroacoustic issues related to integration with its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launch vehicle.

In a follow-up to Caret’s comments, Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Regan told GeekWire that those factors contributed to the schedule slip. In addition, NASA software updates have added more work for developers.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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