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Boeing to advance with a new unmanned test of the Starliner capsule in 2020

Boeing is preparing to launch yet another unmanned mission of the CST-100 Starliner space capsule. The company hopes to be able to dock the International Space Station (ISS) vehicle after the failed attempt in December 2019. Apparently, the company will not move forward with manned missions in 2020.

In a press release, Boeing makes known its decision. Launching a new unmanned mission will make it possible to complete all the proposed objectives and evaluate the Starliner's performance, says the company. Boeing later confirmed to The Washington Post that it plans to proceed with the new space taxi test in October or November this year.

Boeing's decision comes months after NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) revealed that the December 2019 incident with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space capsule could have taken disastrous contours. The responsible panel made it known that, in addition to the anomaly in the countdown system that caused the early return to Earth, a second software error could have caused a catastrophic failure.

ASAP officials indicated that the second software failure managed to be resolved while the CST-100 Starliner was still in orbit. The error could have caused the propellants of the vehicle to be activated in the process of descending Earth, causing an uncontrolled landing.

NASA and Boeing will continue to investigate the causes behind the CST-100 Starliner system software failures. However, ASAP has shown its concern about the rigorous verification processes carried out by Boeing.

As far as space racing is concerned, SpaceX has recently indicated that it maintains plans for Crew Dragon's first manned test. Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on the agendas of organizations around the world, the company led by Elon Musk will conduct the space vehicle capsule test in the second half of May.

The Crew Dragon test flight to International Space Station will be the first from the United States since July 8, 2011, coinciding with the Space Shuttle's last mission. Since then, NASA has been placing its astronauts on the ISS hitchhiking of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.