The stakes are incredibly high.

Fingers Crossed

Boeing is set to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station on board its Starliner space capsule later tonight — and the stakes couldn't be higher.

The aerospace giant has been reeling from a number of disasters plaguing its avionics department, and the development of its much-maligned spacecraft hasn't been spared, either.

The Starliner project has faced years of delaystechnical hiccupsfailed launches, and a budget overrun of $1.5 billion as of last year.

Despite the very real risks involved, the two crew members set to take the capsule for its crewed maiden voyage late on Monday are optimistic about the launch.

"I'm not going to say that ride is going to be super calm," NASA astronaut Suni Williams told Fox Weather last week, "but we'll be OK."

Positive Vibes

The team behind Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has been through a lot together.

"No matter what is going on around us, no matter how difficult the situation, the people on this team just keep their heads down doing the things that, in the moment, can feel impossible," Starliner flight software senior manager Aaron Kraftcheck told reporters month.

"The whole company has rallied around us," he added. "I get emotional talking about it."

The development of Starliner has been hindered by software bugs, the discovery of flammable tape lining the craft's interior, and safety issues with its parachute and wiring. Its maiden voyage ended with the craft failing to reach the ISS in late 2019.

Boeing has also been consistently making headlines over the past four months, with some glaring safety issues plaguing its passenger jet fleet, including a "plug door" that blew out of a 737 Max 9 in January, amid other planes losing parts midflight and its CEO departing under a dark cloud.

Greatly compounding the company's woes have been the sudden deaths of not just one but two whistleblowers who had been ringing the alarm bells over safety flaws for years.

In short, the stakes for Boeing are incredibly high for tonight's launch.

Meanwhile, SpaceX's Crew Dragon, which was developed under the same NASA Commercial Crew contract, has been running laps around Boeing, with the Elon Musk-led company launching a total of ten successful missions to the ISS over the last five years.

More on Starliner: Astronaut Recalls Spacecrafts Flying Through Deadly "Black Zones"

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