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Boeing's Starliner. Photo: NASA

As SpaceX and NASA gear up for the company's historic crewed launch on Wednesday, Boeing — the space agency's other launch partner — is still waiting in the wings for its crewed debut.

Why it matters: While SpaceX is getting all the glory right now as the first company to make it to the pad to launch astronauts, Boeing has also been working toward the same goal since 2014.

  • "There's a little personal disappointment, but in the end ... it comes down to the fact that it's got to be done," Boeing's test pilot astronaut Chris Ferguson told Axios.

Background: Boeing's development of its Starliner capsule has encountered some recent issues.

  • The company's uncrewed test flight in December ended earlier than planned when the spacecraft couldn't make it to the space station due to issues that cropped up not long after launch.
  • Boeing — which is in the process of fixing the issues that lead to the troubled test — will now need to re-do that uncrewed flight later this year before moving on to its first mission with astronaut onboard.

Between the lines: Both companies have been working together and with NASA to get to their first crewed launches, but there has been fierce competition along the way.

  • Boeing — a longtime NASA contractor — was seen as having the distinct advantage over SpaceX, which, when it was picked for the program, was regarded as the young upstart built on a billionaire's dreams.

Yes, but: Ferguson sees the crewed SpaceX launch as something of an advantage for Boeing.

  • SpaceX going first will allow Boeing to track how the company's plans for the lead up to launch differ from their own.
  • "I'll watch the whole thing," Ferguson said. "I hope to soak it all in as not just a competitor/partner but as a curious astronaut."

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 11, 2020 - Science

The risk of branding NASA's wins

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Trump, like some of his predecessors, is branding NASA's recent wins as political, presidential accomplishments even though they are the result of efforts that span administrations.

Why it matters: Experts warn that partisan politicking with NASA can lead to whiplash that leaves the agency scrambling to chase new goals whenever a new administration arrives in Washington.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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