The Starliner is close to a demonstration flight towards the International Space Station after the spacecraft passed an essential safety test on 4 November.
During the safety test, the CST-100 Starliner capsule employed the emergency-escape thrusters to go airborne during a pad abort test, which took place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. A significant amount of data was recorded during the trial and technicians will have a chance to explore it. Initial evaluation offered positive results, according to both NASA and Boeing officials.
A high-ranking NASA employee has stated that the test showed what can be done if an incident will take place on the launch pad.
Boeing received $4.2 billion from CCP to develop the Starliner, which was announced in 2014. A similar contract was signed between CCP and SpaceX, with the latter working hard on the development of the Dragon Crew capsule. The goal of the two projects is to allow NASA to operate orbital spaceflight missions for humans, as the ability was lost when the space shuttle was retired in 2011.
The test is a huge step forward, and Boeing is working hard to prepare the uncrewed mission and a crewed one, which should take place in the following year.
Known as the Orbital Flight Test, the event will take place at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station before 17 December. The Spacecraft will travel towards the ISS and spent almost one week while being attached to the orbital lab before it returns to Earth. If everything goes according to plan, operational flights will start in the following years.
SpaceX has already passed a similar version of the OFT as the Dragon Crew reached the ISS in March 2019 and spent six days while being linked to the ISS. A new flight should take two astronauts into orbit in 2020.
Both companies have faced problems during the development stage, but the new space race is quite impressive.