On December 20, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which is supposed to fly astronauts to the International Space System in the future, returned and landed in New Mexico on December 22. This was planned to be one of the last unmanned test flights before NASA sent astronauts on it, however, the flight did not go to plan. While it was supposed to dock at the Space Station, an issue caused it to instead go on a wrong orbit. Even though officials were able to correct the path of the spacecraft, the spacecraft had already used too much fuel to be able to reach the Space Station. As a result, it landed earlier than expected. The issue was likely an error in the timing which caused its engines to be fired at the wrong moment. Despite the mission’s overall failure, there were still many accomplishments and positives. For one, if astronauts accompanied the spacecraft, they would have been able to help adjust the path of the spacecraft and quickly relay information to the flight control team. Additionally, all the components of the spacecraft were able to be tested and worked well. There was also a test dummy in the Starliner equipped with sensors, and these showed that the flying experience would be great for astronauts. The big questions now are when a crew will be sent on the Starliner and whether Boeing will launch another test flight before this happens.
The Starliner’s landing is not the only reason for the news surrounding Boeing: on December 23, the company announced the firing of its CEO, Dennis Muilenberg. For many, this may not be surprising considering the many setbacks Boeing faced this year. In March, the second Boeing 737 MAX, one of the company’s former most popular planes, crashed and there was much backlash towards the company for failing to adequately provide training and information about one of the features on the plane. This oversight ultimately led to the crashes and hundreds of deaths. The Starliner’s failure to reach the Space Station successfully only contributed to the problems the company faces. Due to these issues, Boeing decided to fire Muilenberg. Boeing hopes the new CEO, Dave Calhoun, will be able to help solve its issues and restore confidence in the company.
Image of Boeing 737 Max
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