TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven't heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing's Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than May 25.

From NASA: "The additional time allows teams to further assess a small helium leak in the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s service module traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster."

Better safe than sorry, of course, but I can't say I'm not eager to see this very, very expensive, very delayed capsule fly.

Scheduling note: TechCrunch Space will be off on May 27 in observance of Memorial Day. I'll see you back here June 3.

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Story of the week

This isn't huge news or anything, but I thought it was really cool that Intuitive Machines basically confirmed that it has been in conversation with NASA over how the company could use its tech to support the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission. MSR has been struggling with ballooning costs and an overly complex architecture, and it's exactly the sort of high-risk, high-reward mission that private industry could excel at executing.

intuitive machines odysseus descending
intuitive machines odysseus descending

What we're reading

"What we're reading" is once again "what we're watching." This week, I want to highly recommend this interview with engineer and economist Sinéad O'Sullivan. She has a...bearish...take on the space industry, but I think it's required listening for folks who could maybe benefit from a reality check.

This week in space history

It feels a bit cruel to bring this up in the same issue that I mention another Starliner delay, BUT 12 years ago on May 22 SpaceX launched its second test-flight of its cargo Dragon spacecraft. (Hey! Starliner is crewed! It's different!) SpaceX has now completed nine cargo missions to the International Space Station.