Boeing signed a NASA contract in July 2014 to help develop the Space Launch System, a heavy rocket platform. It would be “the most powerful rocket ever built,” according to Boeing, but its maiden flight has been pushed back two years to 2019.
“We’ve seen very strong support for NASA and the program, and we continue to put our best and brightest on it,” Caret said.
She also talked about her dream for the autonomous side of Boeing’s space business, which includes the experimental X-37B space plane. The unmanned, highly secretive military craft resembles a miniature space shuttle and earlier this year completed a classified U.S. Air Force mission lasting nearly two years in orbit.
The Boeing executive says that by the time she retires from the company “we will be traveling in low-Earth orbit in unmanned vehicles.” She compared adapting the autonomous technology in spaceflight to how people grew to trust unmanned trains.
“If you recall back a few years ago, when you would get on a train without a conductor, people would get a bit nervous. Now, it’s just part of our natural routine,” Caret said.
While she’s been at the helm of the Boeing division for less than two years, Caret said space is in her blood, declaring herself “a space baby.”
“My folks met on the Saturn 5 program. I was born outside Kennedy Space Center” in Florida, Caret added. “I’ll say this: I’m not so sure ‘The Jetsons’ had it so wrong.”