SpaceX has currently proved that it’s far better at creating human-carrying spacecraft than Boeing. Now its busy procedure agenda is in fact hampering Boeing’s hard work to catch up. SpaceX has so many missions scheduled to arrive at the Worldwide House Station in the coming months that there are no docking ports out there for Boeing to conduct examination flights with.
SpaceX and Boeing are both of those contractors less than NASA’s Professional Crew System, tasked with making a reusable rocket-spacecraft program for transporting astronauts and payloads to the ISS. SpaceX’s process is made up of its workhorse Falcon 9 booster and a new capsule referred to as Dragon, and Boeing is creating a capsule termed Starliner to be launched atop a United Start Alliance Atlas V rocket.
SpaceX delivered the Dragon capsule last May well and has correctly flown 6 astronauts to the house station by two missions. Boeing, by contrast, is nonetheless having difficulties to elevate Starliner off the floor.
A essential forthcoming check is to launch an uncrewed CST-100 Starliner capsule to the ISS, have it docked at a single of the station’s ports for a 7 days, and fly it back to Earth. The exam, named OFT-2, was scheduled for this thirty day period. But Boeing may well have to thrust it again to July or August owing to a “traffic jam” around the ISS’s docking ports in the coming weeks.
Boeing’s Starliner has to been docked at a port with an global docking adapter. There are only two these types of ports on the place station. 1 of them is at the moment occupied by the Dragon capsule made use of in SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission, released final November. The other port will be occupied by one more Dragon capsule on April 22 when SpaceX launches its Crew-2 mission carrying four astronauts. The Crew-2 car will stay hooked up to the area station for 6 months. And shortly following Crew-1 returns to Earth on April 28, a SpaceX cargo mission is set to start on June 3 occupy the vacated port until finally mid-July.
That leaves Boeing about a just one-month window in May to perform the Starliner test. Usually, it will have to wait until July.
A May launch appears to be unlikely, given that Boeing hasn’t provided any updates on the check considering that early March. Two NASA resources instructed Ars Technica that Starliner is “close” to becoming prepared, with only a several modest tests remaining to certify the spacecraft for flight.
“Based on the current website traffic at the house station, NASA does not anticipate that OFT-2 can be completed later on in April. NASA and Boeing are working to discover the earliest achievable start date,” Boeing stated in a assertion dated March 4.
Boeing’s final attempt to exam Starliner was in December 2019. An uncrewed Starliner failed to achieve the ISS and returned to Earth in a shortened check flight.