Aerospace giant Boeing suffered a major setback today as its Starliner capsule was lifted into space. A clock difference between the spacecraft and Mission Control may be at the Forefront of the issue. The capsule missed a window to complete what is known as a burn to get it into a higher orbit so that it could meet with the international space station. The burn was not completed, nor was that portion of the mission successful. Now the Starliner is floating around in a lower orbit. While this proves that the Starliner can, in fact, get into orbit, the mission objective was not completed. There is no word from Boeing or NASA as to how they will proceed at this point in time.
The initial launch of the Starliner aboard the Atlas V rocket did not have any issues; however, about 90 minutes after blast-off, the capsule had some sort of an anomaly that has not been revealed to the public. Simply put, too much fuel was burned during the peculiarity that the capsule will not have the fuel to make the burn to make it to the International Space Station. The hopes are that the capsule will be able to safely return to Earth along with the supplies that it is carrying. Perhaps there will be another time for the mission to be more successful. Since the capsule is in a stable orbit, Boeing and NASA are reviewing options to see if there is something that can be done to accomplish something with the mission.
This will set Boeing back in the race for space as this mission was designed as a critical milestone to test the Starliner for future crewed missions. Had this test been successful, the next part of the procedure was for Boeing to make plans to launch a crude flight test with three astronauts on board the Starliner. As of this point, it would appear as though those plans need to be placed on hold. Boeing will fall behind its rival SpaceX, who has also created a rocket and a capsule to lift a true into space. SpaceX has completed this portion of the testing, and Boeing was already behind the mark; however, SpaceX also had an incident where they had damage to their crew Dragon Space Capsule. It will be interesting to see how this race plays out at this point.
NASA hired both Boeing and SpaceX to develop reusable vehicles capable of bringing humans safely to and from the space station. Since 2011 when the space program retired, the shuttle program NASA has been relying on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for access to the orbiting Laboratory. While this has been effective for continuing scientific means and methods, it’s also costly, however, NASA was planning on a shortfall of some sort and will be purchasing future tickets aboard future Soyuz missions to keep the program heading in the right direction.