Cost to Boeing of Starliner Delays Now Total Nearly $600 Million

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing said on Wednesday that it was taking an additional $185 million charge against earnings due to additional delays to its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which it is developing to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The charge, announced as part of the company’s third quarter financial results, brings the total charges against earnings related to the troubled Starliner program to $595 million. Boeing took a $410 million charge in January 2020 to cover costs due to continuing delays.

The earlier $410 million charge against was due to the need to redo an uncrewed flight to ISS. Boeing first attempt to reach the station failed in December 2019 due to software and communications problems. A Starliner flew an abbreviated two-day mission in Earth orbit before landing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Boeing had planned to launch an uncrewed Starliner on a second flight to the space station in August. However, engineers discovered that 13 of 24 valves controlling the use of oxidizer were stuck due to moisture seeping in and causing corrosion.

The investigation into the problem is continuing. Boeing is now hoping to complete the second uncrewed flight test to ISS during the first half of 2022. A crewed flight test to the station would follow about six months later.

Boeing won a $4.2 billion contract from NASA in 2014 to develop Starliner for crewed flights to the station. Because the contract was firm fixed cost, Boeing cannot pass on costs to NASA in the form of additional charges.

Boeing reported that it lost $132 million in the third quarter that ended in September. That amounted to a loss of 19 cents per share. The company cited quality control issues with its 787 Dreamliner jetliner.