Starliner’s first crew mission gets pushed back yet again, this time with no new launch date

The first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner capsule still hasn’t launched more than two weeks after its originally scheduled liftoff date, and as of right now, there’s no telling when it will. In a statement emailed to members of the press late on Tuesday, NASA announced it was calling off the launch attempt set for May 25. Starliner’s maiden crew mission has already been rescheduled multiple times, but in this instance, NASA hasn’t set a new launch date. “NASA will share more details once we have a clearer path forward,” the agency said in its statement, per SpaceNews.

The first attempt at the beginning of the month was scrubbed due to the discovery of a faulty oxygen relief valve on the ULA Atlas V rocket carrying Starliner. Engineers replaced the valve and Starliner was slated to fly later that week, but that attempt was postponed, too. On May 14, NASA revealed that engineers were working to resolve a helium leak in the spacecraft’s propulsion system. In an update a few days later, NASA said the leak was “stable and would not pose a risk at that level during the flight.” A new targeted launch date was set at that time and ultimately rescheduled once more, but it seems the problems are ongoing.

“The team has been in meetings for two consecutive days, assessing flight rationale, system performance and redundancy,” the agency said in the latest update, according to SpaceNews. “There is still forward work in these areas, and the next possible launch opportunity is still being discussed.” Delays have defined Starliner’s development up until this point, but since two astronauts — Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams — will be on board for this mission, the stakes are especially high; now isn’t the time to start cutting corners.


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