Rocket mishap just latest bad news for Boeing
Boeing’s not so good very bad week just got worse. Shares of the aerospace giant lost another $2 billion in market value on Friday as the company launched its new Starliner space capsule into the wrong orbit.
Also on Friday, another major airliner pushed back the date it expects to start flying Boeing’s grounded 737 Max jet again, this time until June.
Boeing stock, which fell to $330 on Friday, has now lost more than $60 billion in market value since the March crash of an Ethiopian Air 737 Max jet, the second of two crashes of the airplane model in less than six months. The two crashes resulted in 346 deaths and the aircraft has been grounded ever since. On Monday, Boeing confirmed that is was temporarily suspending production of the jet.
The launch complications of the Starliner add a new wrinkle to Boeing’s woes. As the company scrambled to understand what happened, NASA canceled the Starliner’s docking with the International Space Station, instead focusing on a hastier than planned return to Earth. The Starliner could parachute into its landing site in the New Mexico desert as early as Sunday.
Officials stressed the capsule was stable and safe, and that if astronauts had been aboard, they would have been in no danger. A crew may have been able to take over control and salvage the mission. The problem was with the Starliner’s mission clock: It was off-kilter, which delayed timed-commands to put the capsule in the right orbit. Engineers worried the problem could resurface during descent.
It was a major setback for Boeing, which had been hoping to catch up with SpaceX, NASA’s other commercial crew provider that successfully completed a similar demonstration last March. SpaceX has one last hurdle — a launch abort test — before carrying two NASA astronauts in its Dragon capsule, possibly by spring.
As for Boeing’s 737 Bax, United Airlines announced on Friday that the 737 Max has been pulled from its flight schedule until June. Earlier in the week, Southwest has pushed its 737 Max timeline back to April from March.
Also on Friday, Spirit AeroSystems, which builds fuselages for Boeing, said it will end deliveries intended for the Max as damage from the troubled plane begins to ripple outward to Boeing’s many suppliers.
Airlines have already been dealing with the ripple effects of the Max grounding, including delaying putting the Max into their flight schedules, which has led to fewer available seats and higher prices. The grounding also has stopped airlines from adding routes and expanding, analysts say.
CBS News’ Stephen Gandel contributed to this article.
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