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Former NASA leaders praise Boeing’s willingness to risk commercial crew #NASA #leaders #praise #Boeings #willingness #risk #commercial #crew Welcome to TmZ Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
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Enlarge / Politically, Boeing’s spacecraft has done a lot of heavy lifting for NASA’s commercial crew program.
United Launch Alliance
The last few years have been pretty rough for the Boeing Company. Its newest generation of 737 aircraft, the Max, was grounded in 2019 after two fatal crashes. And following a series of poor management decisions, the company has continued to lose commercial aircraft market share to European multinational corporation Airbus.
Boeing’s defense segment has fared little better. After winning a large military refueling contract, Boeing started producing the KC-46 tanker for the Air Force. But because of manufacturing and design problems with the tanker, the company has taken about $5 billion in losses during the last decade.
Finally, there is Boeing’s space unit, which has struggled to adapt to the new era of commercial space and fixed-price contracts. Most visibly, Boeing has competed directly with SpaceX over the last decade in the commercial crew program to deliver NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. So far, things have not gone terribly well. Boeing is running about three years behind SpaceX, which has now launched five crewed missions for NASA.
By contrast, Boeing has faced technical setbacks with the flight software and valves in the Starliner spacecraft’s propulsion system. On Thursday, the company will attempt to launch a do-over mission—a second uncrewed test flight of Starliner intended to dock the spacecraft with the International Space Station. Because of the need to re-fly this test mission after the first one failed in 2019, Boeing has taken more than half a billion dollars in losses.
It now seems possible, if not probable, that Boeing has lost money on the commercial crew program, for which NASA has paid it $5.1 billion since 2010. One sign that Boeing may be seeking to cut costs emerged last week during a meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, when member David West raised concerns that Boeing was not putting enough resources toward Starliner’s development and test campaign.
“The panel has noted that Boeing staffing levels seem to be especially low,” West said. “The panel will be monitoring the situation in the near future to see what impact, if any, this could have on the existence or mitigation of any safety risks. Boeing should ensure that all available resources are applied to meet a reasonable schedule and avoid unnecessary delays.”