Boeing delays 1st Starliner astronaut launch for NASA to March 2024 (at the earliest)

It's disappointing on several levels. It appears the basic design was flawed. This too is disappointing on several levels. And we can go deeper.

A lot of high tech design aids were suppose to prevent this. Another disappointment.
A case study could be made about Boeing failures. Do a problem analysis and at the root cause will most likely be poorly defined ethical standards. See: 737 Max investigation. Boeing cheats in order to make $$. Who woulda' thunk.

Boeing cheats to make more money. They spend their time on rework and lawsuits.
Musk doesn't need to cheat since he already has money. He spends his time watching liftoffs.
Boeing used to be highly regarded, with a history of very successful aerospace developments e.g the Boeing 707 (one of the first jet airliners) and the 747 jumbo jet, and building the Saturn V first stage and the overall integration of the Saturn V. In recent years their former engineering excellence seems to have been sidelined by the new management, resulting in the egregious 737 Max crashes, several problems with the 787 Dreamliner and now the endless delays to the Starliner capsule. You ignore sound engineering at your peril (or rather the peril lies on those who are the passengers in the aircraft or spacecraft!). The one consolation is that the Starliner is a fixed price contract (although they were awarded a far higher price than SpaceX got for its crewed Dragon), so the cost overruns will be at Boeing's expense.....
It looks like Boeing is just going through the motions at this point. They have been rendered unimportant by SpaceX's success with its reusable launch vehicles and Dragon crew capsules, and they aren't going to make more profits on cost overruns on a fixed price government contract.

That is really disappointing, because their capsule design really does not do anything that has not already been done before. They just failed to produce a reliable product on a relevant time frame. And, they need a launch vehicle that is not yet available, mainly because they are not making that. Compared to SpaceX making both the launch vehicle and a capsule that works, with both being reusable, Boeing is looking like it can't even do what it used to do, much less something really new.

I would like to see some other companies become major players in successful new major ventures, in addition to SpaceX. Maybe Blue Origin? Reliability comes from diversity plus redundancy, and I want to see the U.S. space capabilities be highly reliable for getting a goal accomplished on a specified schedule. Relying on government funding is not a reliable means of support - it waxes and wanes on the national and international politics.

Right now, we have a large number of small commercial companies trying to get into profitable space commerce. I expect there are too many competitors for all to be commercially successful, so I expect some shakeout. I just hope the companies that are left give us a robust capability, in case something happens to SpaceX.


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