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Boeing’s Starliner capsule’s first crewed mission rescheduled due to troubleshooting efforts

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Boeing’s Starliner space capsule, ready for its first crewed flight test, encountered a setback when a valve issue on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket caused a delay. The capsule and rocket were rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility for repairs and testing. Despite a successful valve replacement, engineers found a small helium leak in one of the Starliner service module’s thrusters. NASA and Boeing are now assessing the impact of the helium system on the return scenarios for Starliner in preparation for a second launch attempt on June 1.

The launch teams are evaluating the complexities of the issues to ensure a successful flight test. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, Steve Stich, emphasized the importance of understanding these issues before launching astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on their weeklong shakedown cruise to the International Space Station. If all goes well, Starliner will join SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in transporting crew to and from the space station. Despite years of delays and cost overruns, Boeing remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the fixed-price contract with NASA.

The Starliner program has faced technical challenges that have led to delays and increased costs. However, Boeing has continued to work towards a successful first crewed flight test. Engineers have successfully replaced the valve on the Atlas V rocket and addressed the helium leak in the Starliner service module’s thrusters. The launch teams are now focused on understanding the potential impacts of the helium system on the return scenarios for Starliner before the second launch attempt on June 1.

NASA and Boeing are working together to ensure that the second launch attempt of Starliner’s first crewed flight test is successful. The teams are evaluating the propulsion system on Starliner to address the helium leak issue and any implications for the mission. The launch is now scheduled for June 1, with additional opportunities on June 2, 5, and 6. Once the readiness review is complete, astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will embark on their weeklong mission to the International Space Station, joining SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in transporting crew to and from the station.

Despite the challenges faced by the Starliner program, Boeing and NASA are committed to ensuring the success of the first crewed flight test. The teams are taking a cautious approach to address the technical issues before proceeding with the launch. With careful planning and thorough assessments, they aim to launch Starliner on June 1 and demonstrate its capabilities for transporting crew to the International Space Station. The successful completion of this mission will pave the way for future crewed flights on Starliner, alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

Boeing’s Starliner space capsule, undergoing preparations for its first crewed flight test, was delayed due to technical issues with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The valve issue and subsequent helium leak in the Starliner service module’s thrusters have been successfully addressed by the launch teams at Boeing and NASA. The teams are now focused on evaluating the impact of the helium system on the return scenarios for Starliner before the second launch attempt on June 1. NASA remains confident in the capabilities of Starliner and is looking forward to the successful completion of the first crewed flight test with astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on board.

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