Boeing to Test Interplanetary Starliner

The Boeing Company’s Starliner, or CST-100 Spacecraft, is set to make another attempt at a crewed launch in mid-May after the previous launch was delayed due to a valve malfunction in the rocket’s upper stage. The May test flight may be the last test before the Starliner is approved for operational service. The Boeing company hopes to launch its Post-Certification Mission-1 (PCM-1) in 2025.

Competition in Space Travel

Until this point, the ability to ferry astronauts to the international space station has been a one-horse race. Elon Musk’s Space X being the only company to successfully traverse all the qualifying tests. Now that the Boeing Starliner is in the last stage of testing, we may soon have two private companies that will support NASA’s space flight mission. PCM-1 will be Starliner’s first mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA and Boeing "Go" for Historic Starliner Test Mission
Computer generated art of the Starliner spacecraft and accompanying launch system. (Photo – via Boeing)

On November 16, 2022, Artemis 1 launched and rekindled the nation’s love for space exploration and discovery. NASA is using the Space Launch System (SLS), with an Orion spacecraft set on top of it, to travel back to the moon. In support of the Artemis Mission, the Crew Dragon (Space X) and the Starliner (Boeing) will be taking crew and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS). Having the developmental burden rest on private companies rather than the government allows NASA to focus on its mission of making mankind interplanetary.

Artemis Mission

The Commercial Crew Program will support the Artemis Missions, not only by blazing the trail for commercial space innovation but also by setting up a low Earth orbit (LEO) information structure supporting the development of spacecraft and habitats in LEO.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket fitted to Boeing’s Starliner, as they take off for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Space Launch Complex-41. (Photo – ULA)

Although the Artemis mission is focused on setting up a sustainable habitat on the moon, the ultimate goal is Mars, the Red Planet. Once the concept of setting up and sustaining a habitat on the moon becomes a reality, humanity can start making plans to replicate that success on Mars. With privately owned companies investing billions of dollars into space programs, the concept of mankind becoming interplanetary is quickly becoming less science fiction and may soon be a reality that is within our grasp.

If you would like to know more about the Artemis Mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/humans-in-space/artemis/ for all up-to-date information. If you would like to know more about the Commercial Crew Program spacecraft, please visit https://www.spacex.com/vehicles/dragon/ or https://www.boeing.com/space/starliner.


This article was written by Atlas News contributor Jason Fraley as part of an ongoing series covering developments and news in the aerospace industry.

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