Boeing shifts leaders for space station and Starliner programs
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Boeing's John Mulholland and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
Boeing’s John Mulholland gives a briefing to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a visit to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2018. Hardware for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi can be seen in the background. (NASA Photo / Kim Shiflett)

As a new commercial-centric era dawns for the International Space Station, Boeing is realigning its top managers for the space station program — and for the program that’s working to send Starliner capsules there and back.

Mark Mulqueen, who has served as Boeing’s space station program manager since 2015, will be retiring July 2. During his 35 years at Boeing, Mulqueen has served in a variety of management positions — for example, as deputy program manager for the space station and deputy program manager for the commercial crew program.

Boeing has served as the prime contractor for the U.S. segment of the International Space Station since its inception. The orbital outpost will mark 20 years of continuous occupation this November.

“Mark has made an immense contribution to Boeing’s human spaceflight programs, and his legacy will endure well beyond his departure,” Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing Space and Launch, said in an email to employees announcing today’s management changes.

John Mulholland will take on the role of vice president and program manager for the International Space Station, effective June 26. Since 2011, Mulholland has led the design and development of the CST-100 Starliner space taxi, which is meant to ferry astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion fixed-price contract in 2014 to develop the Starliner as part of a commercial space transport system in the wake of the space shuttle fleet’s retirement in 2011. SpaceX won a similar contract worth $2.6 billion for the development of its Crew Dragon capsule, which sent NASA astronauts to the station for the first time last month.

Starliner took on an uncrewed test flight to orbit last December, but a timing glitch foiled Boeing’s plan to go all the way to the space station and back. A joint NASA-Boeing independent review turned up dozens of fixes that had to be made. Another uncrewed trial is expected later this year — and assuming that flight goes well, Starliner’s first crewed trip to the station would take place next year.

In a financial report issued in January, Boeing said it would take a $410 million pre-tax charge against earnings to cover the cost of a second uncrewed flight.

Before taking on his role with the Starliner program, Mulholland was vice president and program manager for Boeing’s part of the space shuttle program. (The prime contractor for the shuttle program was United Space Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture.)

Effective June 26, John Vollmer will take on Mulholland’s role as vice president and program manager for the CST-100 Starliner program.

Vollmer joined the Starliner program this year to support the implementation of recommendations from the independent review team. Vollmer previously served as chief engineer on the space station program.

His experience with the space station goes back 33 years, to Boeing’s first contract award for the program. He was a member of the station redesign team in 1993, when Space Station Freedom was reworked to accommodate Russian participation. Vollmer also served as the launch package stage manager for the station’s first U.S. element, which was launched in 1998 and is now known as the Unity node.

“Their leadership will help us rise to the challenges before us and the opportunities ahead as we advance Boeing’s 60-year legacy in human spaceflight,” Chilton said.

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