After troubleshooting the problem, the thruster touched the docking port with the final tweak by the thruster.
After a successful return from orbit and landing, Boeing will continue to perform additional work, including investigating and correcting glitches encountered during this flight. The spacecraft parachute certification must also be completed before NASA approves the astronaut’s transport to Starliner. An independent safety committee overseeing NASA expressed concern last week that Boeing did not have enough personnel to work on the program.
David B. West, a member of the Safety Commission, said:
After a crew demonstration mission that took two of the three NASA astronauts to the space station, Starliner went into normal operation and put the four crew in orbit. NASA expects SpaceX and Boeing to fly their crew missions once a year, respectively.
However, in the short term, Boeing will not be able to take advantage of non-NASA businesses like SpaceX, and will put two civilian missions on track over the past year. For one thing, Boeing vehicles are quite expensive. In 2019, NASA inspectors estimated that NASA was paying $ 90 million for each Starliner seat, while SpaceX’s Crew Dragon seats are $ 55 million.
In addition, Boeing does not have access to the rockets needed to fly more Starliner missions than NASA requires. Currently, the spacecraft will be launched on the Atlas 5 rocket manufactured by the United Launch Alliance. However, the Atlas V is driven by a Russian-made RD-180 engine. In 2016, Congress decided to demand the phasing out of RD-180. Boeing has enough Atlas 5 rockets to meet its obligations to NASA — crew test flights and six operational flights — but nothing more.
The Starliner can fly on other rockets, including the Vulcan, the successor to the Atlas V. However, Balkans, who have not yet made their first flight, have not been approved for crew missions.