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There are several occupations in which accuracy doesn't matter ... rocket science is not one of them. Boeing found this out the hard way on Friday after its first-ever Starliner space launch went awry. 

The Starliner launch, which took place early on Friday in Florida, went off without a hitch. That is, until the capsule's internal clock malfunctioned, causing the thrusters to detach 15 minutes earlier than planned, leaving Starliner stranded in the wrong orbit. A mistake that critics call a "simple technical misstep."

Boeing had this to say about the premature evacuation: “this usually never happens.”


Luckily for Boeing, NASA, and at least a handful of lab monkeys, the flight was uncrewed, with only a mannequin named Rosie the Riveter aboard the craft. Trust us, stranding a pilot in the wrong orbit results in a sh*t load of paperwork. 

The downside of the misfire, in addition to Boeing becoming the laughing stock of the aerospace industry, is that the capsule couldn't make it's scheduled rendezvous with the International Space Station. You try telling a bunch of dudes stranded in space that Rosie the Riveter isn’t going to arrive.

The craft did return safely to earth. So there's something to hang your hat on ... I guess. 

The bottom line...

Boeing can't seem to get it done on earth, let alone a different orbit. If you remember, Boeing has had quite a few issues with its grounded 737 MAX airliner, which experienced two crashes over five months, claiming the lives of 346. 

As for the space travel competition, Elon Musk, in particular, must have been pleased with Boeing's result. Musk's SpaceX recently completed a similar test flight that made it to the ISS. For what it’s worth Musk’s success didn’t come without a handful of “failures to launch.”

Boeing stock closed down 1.65% on Friday. 

Boeing’s First Test Flight of Uncrewed Space Capsule Stuck In Wrong Orbit  [WSJ]



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