Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft achieved a significant milestone by delivering two astronauts to the International Space Station. However, despite this success, the journey was not without its challenges, and there are still many hurdles to overcome before the aerospace giant can achieve its goal of routine missions.

The CST-100 Starliner capsule’s first crewed docking with the ISS was a crucial safety demonstration for both NASA and the private astronaut mission market, which is currently dominated by SpaceX and its Crew Dragon capsule. Before Boeing can compete with SpaceX in the spaceflight industry, it must meet several more test objectives.

During Starliner’s journey to the ISS, the spacecraft encountered issues such as helium leaks and thruster failures, which caused delays in its docking. While these problems did not pose a danger to the astronauts on board, they are a cause for concern. Boeing plans to redesign the valves on Starliner’s propulsion system and is studying potential redesigns for the spacecraft’s batteries.

The development challenges faced by Starliner have already cost Boeing a significant amount of money, and further redesigns could prolong the process. The company is working to address these issues and ensure the spacecraft’s safety for future missions. In comparison, SpaceX’s vertically integrated structure allows for quicker and more efficient design changes, as demonstrated by the rapid redesign of Crew Dragon’s abort propulsion system and toilet.

NASA officials will spend months reviewing the data from Starliner’s first crewed mission to determine if any redesigns are necessary before certifying the spacecraft for routine flights. The ultimate goal is to ensure the safe return of astronauts and address any anomalies that occurred during the mission. Only then can Boeing move forward with its plans for future missions.

In conclusion, while Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has taken a significant step forward in the spaceflight industry, there are still many challenges to overcome. The company must address the issues encountered during the recent mission and work towards ensuring the safety and reliability of the spacecraft for future flights. Through careful review and potential redesigns, Boeing aims to compete with SpaceX and establish itself as a key player in the commercial spaceflight market.