SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Blames Boeing's Starliner Delay On 'Too Many Non-Technical Managers'

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Monday reflected on the delays with Boeing Co‘s BA Starliner spacecraft, contracted by NASA for transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) alongside SpaceX’s Dragon.

What Happened: Musk on Monday pegged the delay in Starliner’s first crewed flight on “too many non-technical managers” at Boeing. NASA awarded both Boeing and SpaceX contracts to enable to and from transportation to the ISS after retiring its space shuttle. While SpaceX was awarded $2.6 billion, Boeing was awarded $4.2 billion.

Despite the lower award amount, SpaceX sent its first crewed mission to the ISS in 2020 on its Dragon spacecraft and has since then undertaken multiple missions, overtaking its traditional rival.

“Although Boeing got $4.2 billion to develop an astronaut capsule and SpaceX only got $2.6 billion, SpaceX finished 4 years sooner,” Musk wrote on X. “Too many non-technical managers at Boeing.”

Starliner Delays: Starliner was planned to have its first crewed flight on Monday but it was halted after an issue was identified with the Atlas V rocket that was supposed to carry the spacecraft to orbit. NASA on Tuesday said that it is now targeting no earlier than Friday, May 10, for the launch.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has been faced with several delays since the start. The spacecraft was supposed to have its first uncrewed test flight in 2015 which was delayed up to 2019. In 2022, the spacecraft completed its first uncrewed flight to the International Space Station. On the flight planned for Monday, the company was planning to launch two astronauts Suni Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore to the orbital laboratory.

If the crewed flight test is successful, Boeing will become the next private company to shuttle astronauts to and from the ISS for NASA, like Musk’s SpaceX.

Hardships In The Aviation Segment: Boeing’s commercial airplane segment has been swamped by crisis since January when a door plug panel flew off an Alaska Airlines plane manufactured by the company soon after take off. 

Several whistleblowers have since come to the fore alleging safety issues in the manufacturing process at the company. One of the whistleblowers, Joshua Dean, died last week due to sudden illness while another whistleblower John Barnett shot himself earlier this year.

“How do they even get any work done with so many whistles being blown!?,” Musk wrote on Monday referring to the company’s issues in the airplane division.

Though the space and aviation segments are different, Boeing’s Starliner is also faced with immense scrutiny at the moment, making the success of the crewed test flight all the more important for the company.

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Photo by Angga Budhiyanto on Shutterstock

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