NASA, Boeing eyeing early May for crewed Starliner test

NASA and Boeing say Starliner is ready to send astronauts to the International Space Station.

Boeing faced several delays because of safety concerns with the Starliner spacecraft. After months of troubleshooting, project managers are ready to hire people in May. 

Even with a flight date finally set, pressure is still mounting with two lives on the line. 

"We test, test, and test," said Mark Nappi, Boeing's vice president and program manager. 

The company has to continue its rigorous testing because safety has been a setback for Starliner.

Nappi says the biggest issues were "the parachute system and the tape flammability issue that we had."

For six months, Boeing's been busy. They had to upgrade a faulty parachute system by adding more robust material. They also removed nearly a mile of tape that could have burst into flames.

"Part of bringing on a new crewed system is the human rating process and our certification process," said Steve Stich of NASA’s commercial crew program.

NASA says, safety certifications are almost done, and the vehicle is ready to send two veteran astronauts to the International Space Station.

Suni Williams has already spent over 300 days in space and is also a Florida Tech grad. She’ll join Butch Wilmore, who’s been in space for nearly 200 days and served in the Navy.

If Starliner succeeds, NASA will have a new way to reach the ISS. 

"We have two spacecraft now to be able to get us into orbit," said Bill Nelson, the NASA Administrator. 

NASA worked with Boeing to build the ISS years ago, but the company is under fire because of airplane safety issues. Recently, wheels fell off, and a door blew off a plane during a flight. 

Even with those concerns, NASA is still backing Boeing and is trying to assure people that Starliner is different from the company's airplanes and will be safe.

"I just want to remind folks that this is not Boeing’s first time to deal with human spaceflight safety," said Dana Weigel, who’s a deputy program manager with the ISS. 

The crewed flight test will lift off from Launch Complex 41 in early May and should last about two weeks.