Starliner Rocket Launch Delayed by 10 Days Due to Malfunction

Boeing’s Starliner capsule will have to wait a few more days for its much-anticipated maiden crewed test flight.  NASA said recently that the Atlas V rocket would need to return to its hangar to repair a pressure valve.

The mission, which is crucial to Boeing’s efforts to get a larger portion of the lucrative contracts with NASA, is now scheduled to launch no later than May 17.

The initial plan for the May 6th launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station (ISS) was for the Starliner to make its first mission with humans on board.

A pressure regulating valve failed on the Atlas rocket’s liquid oxygen tank during blastoff preparations, leading to the launch cancellation with less than two hours remaining in the countdown.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin’s joint venture, United Launch Alliance (ULA), provides and operates the rocket, which is distinct from the Starliner capsule.

The capsule and its two-person crew will stay docked to the space station for about one week after launch. They will then descend to Earth using parachute and airbag assistance.

Two seasoned NASA astronauts, Sunita Suni Williams (58) and Barry Butch Wilmore (61), were chosen to travel on Starliner on its maiden crewed run and to handle its manual controls.

The first test trip to the ISS without passengers onboard the Starliner was performed two years ago, and now there will be a crewed space launch. In 2019, the Starliner’s first unmanned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was a fiasco.

Following a string of mishaps that have disrupted its commercial aircraft operations, including the January mid-air explosion of a plane’s door plug, Boeing has been subject to severe public scrutiny.

The business has been eager to launch its Starliner space enterprise to restart a program that has fallen behind schedule and incurred over $1.5 billion in overruns.

A new generation of privately manufactured spacecraft will transport passengers to the ISS and, under the space agency’s Artemis program, to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. SpaceX has become a reliable taxi to orbit for NASA, which has been struggling with Boeing.