NASA and Boeing face further delay for Starliner spacecraft’s first crewed mission to the ISS

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File photo.

18th May 2024 – (Los Angeles) NASA and Boeing have announced another delay for the highly anticipated launch of the first crewed mission of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch is now scheduled for no earlier than Tuesday, 25th May, as stated by the agency on Friday.

Initially planned for May 6, the launch was set to take place from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, utilizing a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. However, technical issues forced the teams to scrub the launch attempt, and subsequent rescheduling attempts have also faced setbacks.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA teams have decided to take additional time to address spacecraft closeout processes and flight rationale before proceeding with the launch. A key focus of this extended timeframe is the assessment of a small helium leak identified in the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s service module. The leak has been traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster.

The upcoming flight test will carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the ISS, marking the first crewed mission for Boeing’s Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Once at the orbiting laboratory, the astronauts are expected to spend approximately one week before returning to Earth. The return journey will involve a parachute and airbag-assisted landing in the southwestern United States.

Upon the successful completion of this mission, NASA will initiate the final certification process for the Starliner spacecraft and its systems, enabling future crewed rotation missions to the International Space Station.