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Boeing adds another $93 million charge against earnings for Starliner manned capsule

Capitalism in space: Boeing officials revealed yesterday that they have been forced to add another $93 million charge against earnings for its much delayed Starliner manned capsule the company is building.

This is on top of $410 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 and another $185 million in the third quarter of 2021. All together, Boeing has had to cover $688 million in cost growth.

At the moment the first manned launch is tentatively scheduled to occur before the end of this year, with NASA supposedly announcing a firm date before the end of July. This new charge however suggests that the manned launch will not happen until ’23.

Boeing has not simply lost $688 million. It also has lost potential business because of the delays, both from NASA and private citizens. Instead, that business went to SpaceX.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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7 comments

  • Tim Kyger

    The 737 Max of spaceflight.

  • sippin_bourbon

    It is not quite that bad. 737Max crashed twice and killed a lot of people.
    Thankfully, It has not blown up yet, and the flight failures were unmanned.

    I am curious how many astronauts are clamoring for a ride though, vs preferring the Dragon for a ride.

  • Edward

    Robert,
    You wrote: “It also has lost potential business because of the delays, both from NASA and private citizens. Instead, that business went to SpaceX.

    Does this mean that Boeing is interested in commercializing Starliner after all? One of your recent posts suggested otherwise:
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/boeing-uninterested-in-finding-customers-for-starliner-outside-of-nasa/

  • Edward: Boeing had made it obvious that was very much interested in commercializing Starliner during its early development. You might remember it had signed deals with Bigelow and others to provide transportation to orbit.

    More recently, I think the more timid members in the company’s management have taken charge. Thus, the lack of interest in flying more commercial flights.

    This might change again once Starliner is flying, but personally I have doubts. The management at Boeing shows real dry rot. For example, their decision to move headquarters to DC illustrates their disinterest in engineering and making it pay. Instead, they are aiming their sights on more government military contracts.

    Meanwhile, none of this changes what I said. Boeing’s failure to get Starliner operational on time has meant it lost business it certainly would have had. For example, NASA purchases more flights with SpaceX because Starliner wasn’t available.

  • Edward

    Meanwhile, none of this changes what I said. Boeing’s failure to get Starliner operational on time has meant it lost business it certainly would have had. For example, NASA purchases more flights with SpaceX because Starliner wasn’t available.

    Perhaps had Starliner worked well the first time then Boeing would be bolder with its commercialization plans.

    I think that what you are suggesting is that Boeing plans to continue with its current non-NASA commitments but not seek any new non-NASA commitments with Starliner.

    This would mean that one small software error, the selection of one data point from the wrong cell, was tremendously costly. I can only wonder whether this could constitute the most expensive computer error since the first Ariane V launch (501), which some people touted as the most expensive computer error up to that time (estimated to be $7 billion).

  • Edward: It is my understanding that Boeing discovered more than 60 (maybe 80) errors in its software after that first failed demo flight.

  • Edward

    Robert,
    The error that caused the problem was the real root cause of the bad publicity. The other errors were relatively minor and did not cause much loss of confidence in Starliner. Having a potentially manned spacecraft fly out of control is worrisome, and not completing the test didn’t help at all. The other software bugs were far less visible to the public, and small problems often are found in these kinds of tests.

    If it were only those little bugs and no visible problems, then Starliner would have passed nicely with 60 or 80 non-conformance notice write-ups (or whatever Boeing calls them) to fix before the first Starliner manned mission later in 2020.

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