Old Ways Vs. Progress

With all of the issues surrounding Boeing these days, they are constantly in the news… for not really good things at all. It’s one thing to have a lot of issues with your planes, but it’s quite another to have issues with your human-flight space crafts. Don’t you think you should get air travel down before you start this whole space thing? If that were the case, Elon Musk has shown you don’t need to master air travel to fly in space. Why is there a huge difference between the two companies? In my opinion, it comes down to Boeing trying to shoehorn their airplane technology into a space program.

Let’s first take a look at some of the issues Boeing has been having with their planes. Failed landing gears, engine coverings flying off, doors being blown out, doctored safety inspections, multiple crashes, etc. The management is in question by various entities, and the FAA has multiple investigations open. It seems like an odd time to try your first human space mission. I can see them wanting a win and some good publicity, but the launch has been scrubbed a few times due to issues. If these issues are anything like their planes, it’s going to suck. At least with planes, you have a chance of landing everyone safely, even if the landing is catastrophic.

Musk, on the other hand, skipped the whole plane thing. It’s been done. It would be almost impossible to go up against the big guns and succeed. Space travel essentially died when NASA’s Spaceshuttle program was retired. NASA didn’t have anything else in the wings. Several companies have tried but failed. Just like the EV market, Musk came in and shook things up by succeeding where others failed. He might not always be on top, but he sure knows how to ignite innovation and progress.

So, where do these two companies (Boeing and SpaceX) differ? Boeing seems to have that 1980’s corporate stagnation, unable to innovate as well as SpaceX. SpaceX wasn’t in a box, so they weren’t stuck thinking inside of it. Musk hired the best people he could, and they tirelessly figured out each issue. Where Boeing seemed stuck in the Spaceshuttle design phases from the 70s, Musk’s designs were from a simplistic, yet futuristic perspective. I’m no design major, so I have no idea what the fuck to call it.

Let’s look at some example. This is the interior or SpaceX’s Dragon capsule. There are pictures of an all white, flat interior. I’m not sure if that is the cargo version, and this one is of the crewed version. That would be my guess. There’s room for seven.

Tanya Lewis – Space.com

Now this is inside the Boeing’s Starliner. What the fuck? It looks like an apartment inside a submarine research vessel with sex chairs in the middle. There are straps everywhere to hold onto. That might be good floating in space, but what about fucking take-off and landing? You might see the big fire extinguisher and think, “Oh good, safety first!” until you realize their control panel is bolted to the ceiling with what looks like allthread. Where did they get their couch, Space Ikea?

Robert Markowitz – NASA

The SpaceX cockpit looks like a high-tech futuristic race car that costs more than a US soccer team. Boeing’s cockpit looks like a college dorm room furnished by Ikea and Big Lots. Nothing is wrong with shopping at Ikea or Big Lots, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to take it in space!

Next, let’s take a look at the control panels. This is the control panel for SpaceX’s Dragon. It looks like three large touchscreens with some manual button and knobs at the bottom. The middle screen might just be a display. In the first picture, it looks like they have four large touchscreens. This might be a secondary control panel. Either way, it’s centuries beyond Boeing.


This is Boeing’s Starliner’s control panel. What the fuck? I feel like I’m looking at a crossover episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) and SeaQuest. I understand the need for some analog switches and buttons, but what really has me concerned is the tablet running Windows 10. What the fuck is that there for? Do they have all the manuals on it? Do they have it there to watch Netflix? I mean, come on! I understand people’s hesitance to go to Windows 11, but with Windows 10 being end-of-life next October, I would think you would want something a little better. Shit! I’m surprised they don’t have a custom operating system installed that just has the needs of the craft and crew instead of a bloated, semi-stable system. All operating systems crash, but add cosmic rays and increased radiation, and I would think they would want something a little more hardened.

Robert Markowitz – NASA

You couldn’t pay me enough to fly aboard the Boeing. I would fly in a SpaceX craft. The Dragon has had 46 launches and 42 visits to the ISS (as of this writing). Add in the space suits, and it’s a wrap. Looking at the SpaceX suits, I’m amazed they work. They are sleek and minimalistic. It looks like they have a pair of Muck boots on, ready to get knee-deep in some alien shit. It does look like they can move a lot better than the 1980’s-era NASA suits. I don’t know how you could get more streamlined and stay safe in space.


And then, there is the Boeing suits. They look like they took the original NASA design from the 1980s, painted it blue, and trimmed it down just a tad. The blue, zipper booties look like some new shoe design from an ex-NBA player with too much money. It doesn’t look nearly as comfortable. It’s like they want you to know they wear diapers in space.

It’s easy to see the two directions that were taken by Boeing and SpaceX. One looks to be holding onto the past, unable to see much into the future. The other has read about the past but dreams for the future like a kid dreaming about adventures in space and on other planets. This should be how things progress. We need to read and remember the past, but we can’t get stuck there, nor can we ignore it. We must all dream of the future and how much better things can be, all while knowing that history has a tendency to repeat itself, especially when we ignore it. SpaceX makes me dream of a brighter future, one that includes trips to the moon and Mars. Boeing induces anxiety and creates a grim outlook, all cemented by the wars, media, and our current leaders. Boeing reminds me too much of the movie “Don’t Look Up” with an ending that seems all too inevitable. SpaceX reminds me of the fascination and hope I had as a kid watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”


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