From Setbacks to Launchpad: Boeing Starliner Launch

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All eyes once again on Boeing today as the much-anticipated Boeing Starliner launch is set for tonight. This marks the first time the Starliner spaceship will carry astronauts after a series of engineering setbacks and delays.

NBC News senior correspondent Tom Castello is reporting live from the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex.

Tom provides an overview of the situation. The Boeing Starliner launch, originally planned for 2020, has faced years of delays compared to its competitor, SpaceX.

These delays stemmed from engineering problems encountered during development, similar to issues that have plagued Boeing’s commercial airline division.

This evening’s crew mission aboard the Starliner is a high-stakes endeavor. Veteran astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore will lift off at 10:34 p.m. eastern time tonight aboard an Atlas 5 rocket. However, the Boeing Starliner launch has been way over budget and overdue.

Concerns were raised during an uncrewed test flight in 2019 when a software mistake caused Starliner’s internal clocks to malfunction by 11 hours.

Mission Control was forced to intervene, and it was later discovered that the spacecraft could have collided with the space station. Further delays arose when engineers discovered flammable tape and potentially faulty parachute straps within the capsule.

Despite these setbacks, the Starliner did successfully complete an uncrewed cargo mission to the space station in 2022. Both Williams and Wilmore have expressed confidence in the spacecraft’s safety, and NASA has emphasized their commitment to flying only missions they deem completely safe.

The primary objective of this Boeing Starliner launch is a 10-day shakedown mission. This mission aims to verify the Starliner’s ability to safely transport astronauts to and from the space station, ultimately allowing it to share crew rotation duties with SpaceX.

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Tom highlights the significant shift in the space industry landscape. Just five years ago, few would have predicted that SpaceX would have already completed 11 missions before Boeing’s inaugural crewed launch.

Tonight, all eyes are on the Boeing Starliner launch.

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