Boeing Heads To Space: Could NASA Deal, Starliner Help Fend Off Airplane Segment Weakness?

Zinger Key Points
  • Boeing shares have fallen significantly in 2024 after airplane safety issues.
  • The company's space segment has an upcoming flight that could prove an important milestone for the company.

Airplane maker Boeing Co BA has had a rough 2024 with several setbacks related to safety issues highlighted by its airplanes flown by airline companies.

While the company could have a long road ahead of fixing problems and regaining customer trust for its airplanes, Boeing could have an exciting catalyst for an underfollowed company segment.

What Happened: Boeing is best known for its airplane division, which has faced several publicly known issues of planes having problems while in the air or shortly after takeoff.

Aside from its commercial airplane division, Boeing also operates a Defense, Space & Security segment. This segment includes items made for defense agencies worldwide and also a growing space segment that could have one of the biggest milestones in company history coming up.

On Tuesday, NASA joined Boeing at its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility as it moved its Starliner spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center to a launch site at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station; both are in Florida.

The space agency was on hand as Boeing's space division connected the Starliner spacecraft to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. United Launch Alliance is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.

Tuesday's event comes ahead of a crew flight test mission done by NASA and Boeing. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will board the Starliner and launch to the International Space Station.

The liftoff event is scheduled to take place after May 6 at 10:34 p.m. ET or later. Wilmore and Williams will spend a week at the International Space Station before returning with a parachute and airbag-assisted landing planned.

If the mission is successful, NASA will begin the final step in certifying Boeing's Starliner for crewed missions to the space station.

"Big day for NASA. Big day for Boeing as we get over to the rocket and mate these things together," Wilmore said, as shared by Florida Today. "Go Starliner."

This marks the third launch for Starliner under the NASA crewed mission deal, with the previous two launches being uncrewed.  

Starliner will have the ability to carry up to seven crew members or a mix of crew members and cargo according to Boeing. The company has said that the Starliner spacecraft will be reusable and able to fly up to 10 missions.

Related Link: Delta Flight Returns To Atlanta After Takeoff: Boeing 757 ‘Yawing Aggressively’

Why It's Important: Customer trust has fallen for planes made by Boeing, which could spell trouble for the company moving forward. A new focus on its space program could provide optimism for shareholders and a potential fresh look at the company.


The commercial airplane segment represented $33.9 billion of the company's $77.8 billion in revenue for fiscal 2023, its largest of three reported segments. The company's Defense, Space & Security segment had revenue of $25.0 billion in 2023 and was its second largest segment.

The Starliner partnership for crewed missions with NASA is part of a 2014 commercial crew program award in 2014. Boeing's initial contract was good for $4.82 billion, with SpaceX also getting $3.14 billion under the same NASA partnership to take crews to the International Space Station.

SpaceX has taken astronauts to and from the ISS. This would mark the first successful time for Boeing under the partnership.

Revenue was up 8% year-over-year for the Defense, Space & Security segment in 2023, which was the lowest of three segments with Commercial Airplanes up 30% year-over-year and Global Services up 9% year-over-year.

Boeing reports first quarter financial results on April 24. While investors and analysts will be glued to the report to get a sense of the timeline and financial impact of airplane problems, commentary on the space segment and potential future contracts with NASA could be a catalyst not priced into the stock.

BA Price Action: Boeing shares are trading Wednesday down 1.20% at $168.50 versus a 52-week trading range of $167.53 to $267.54. Boeing shares are down 35% year-to-date in 2024 and remain down 17% over the last year.

Read Next: Elon Musk Wants Space Stations On Mars & The Moon: Rival General Motors Could Build Lunar Vehicle That Carries The Astronauts

Photo: Artist concept shows Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner docking to the International Space Station. Courtesy of Boeing

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