The Starliner spacecraft is ready for its first voyage to space, according to Boeing and NASA, with a second uncrewed test mission set for May 19.
Boeing has had a lot of struggles and delays getting their version of a reusable spaceship but now is lined up to be in direct completion with SpaceX for NASA projects.
For missions to low Earth orbit, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft was designed to carry seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo. It will transport four passengers and small cargo to the International Space Station for NASA servicing missions.
With a six-month turnaround time, Starliner has a weldless construction that can be reused up to ten times.
For all scheduled Starliner missions, Boeing intends to alternate between two reusable crew modules. Each trip will use a new service module, which will supply the spaceship with propulsion and power generation capabilities. For crew interfaces, it has wireless Internet and tablet technology.
Boeing Vs SpaceX
At the moment, NASA relies on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport humans to and from the International Space Station.
Since mid-2020, Crew Dragon has flown five relatively faultless crewed missions, but with tensions between the US and Russia high, NASA would welcome a second crew transportation option to reach the station.
That means the second test of the Starliner has aroused NASA’s interest. If this test flight goes well, Boeing will most likely be able to send crew to the space station for the first time in early 2023.