Published in Transportation

Boeings' 737 Max woes go orbital

by on13 January 2020

NASA is a bit worried about the Starliner spacecraft

In the wake of the 737 Max fiasco, NASA appears to be a bit worried about Boeing’s Starline rocket.

For those who came in late Boeing's Starliner spacecraft suffered a serious setback during a flight test last month that forced the cancellation of its planned docking with the International Space Station.

However, the 737 Max case showed that Boeing had played fairly footloose with regulators which had increasing let them have their way.

Now  NASA faces a high-stakes dilemma: Should the space agency require the company to repeat the uncrewed test flight, or allow the next flight to proceed, as originally planned, with astronauts on board.

NASA is struggling to restore human spaceflight from the United States since the Space Shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, it cannot really have a high profile disaster involving a dead astronaut.

Forcing Boeing to redo the test flight without anyone on board would be costly, possibly requiring the embattled company, already struggling from the consequences of two deadly crashes of its 737 Max airplane, to spend tens of millions of dollars to demonstrate that its new spacecraft is capable of meeting the space station in orbit.

NASA  has formed an independent team with Boeing to examine what went wrong with the Starliner during last month's test flight. NASA is reviewing data to help it determine if the capsule achieved enough objectives during its truncated flight to assure NASA that its astronauts will be safe.

If Boeing is forced to perform another test flight someone will have to come up with tens of millions of dollars to run it. Boeing, with all those 737 Max planes grounded, might not have that sort of dosh.


Last modified on 13 January 2020
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