Boeing’s spacecraft takes on a star-making role

After years of hard work and numerous setbacks, Boeing has sent astronauts into space — and without any windshield cracks or doors blowing off.

What happened: After two cancelled test flights earlier this year, Boeing and NASA successfully launched the first crewed test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule. Two astronauts are currently on their way to the International Space Station (ISS) in it. 

Catch-up: In 2014, NASA grew tired of paying Russia millions to ferry its astronauts to the ISS, and awarded Boeing and SpaceX multibillion-dollar contracts to do the job. SpaceX’s Dragon made it to the ISS in 2020, but Starliner took some extra time due to tech issues.

Why it matters: Starliner represents the future of low-Earth orbit space travel, be it for NASA or other groups. It's reusable, it has autonomous flight systems and navigation systems that allow travellers to kick back, and it’s spacious enough for seven people.

  • “Boeing's Starliner website reads like a car brochure,” BBC journalist Richard Hollingham wrote, “reflecting its commercial proposition.”

What’s next: Starliner is scheduled to reach its destination this morning and land back on Earth on June 14. Boeing is contracted to do six more space flights for NASA.—QH