Boeing resets crewed space taxi flight for 2019

Boeing Starliner
An artist’s conception shows Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which is designed to carry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. (Boeing Illustration)

Last month’s problem with leaky rocket engine valves has forced Boeing to rearrange the sequence of tests for its Starliner space taxi, with the first crewed flight to the International Space Station now planned for no earlier than mid-2019.

John Mulholland, a Boeing vice president who’s program manager for the CST-100 Starliner program, laid out the revised schedule today during a teleconference with journalists.

The current plan calls for an uncrewed Starliner capsule, known as Spacecraft 3, to be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket to the International Space Station in late 2018 or early 2019.

Another capsule, Spacecraft 1, will be put through an uncrewed pad abort test during the first few months of 2019. Assuming that test is successful, Boeing would launch the Starliner’s first crew to the space station aboard yet another Starliner, Spacecraft 2, a month later.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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