Boeing Delays Spaceflight Again as it Continues to Struggle with Issues

Sat May 18 2024
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WASHINGTON: NASA has said that Boeing’s first flight with people aboard its troubled Starliner spacecraft has been delayed again, as the beleaguered firm works to assess a helium leak in the capsule’s service module, The Washington Post reported.

The flight, which was initially scheduled for May 6, is now set for no earlier than May 25 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. In a statement, NASA said that Boeing performed testing on the helium system Wednesday and also found that the leak is “stable and would not pose a danger at that level during the spaceflight.”

Still, NASA, which is paying Boeing around $4.2 billion under the commercial crew agreement, said Boeing wants to take more time “to develop operational procedures in order to ensure the system retains sufficient performance ability and suitable redundancy during the flight.”

The spaceflight is a test mission to ferry NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore to the global space station. The aim is to test how the spacecraft performs with persons onboard. NASA would certify it for regular flights to the International Space Station, carrying a full contingent of four astronauts for around six months stays If Boeing is able to complete the space mission.

But Boeing has struggled with the Starliner, which has cost the firm $1.4 billion as it had worked through a series of issues over several years, including major software problems, valves that were corroded shut, a parachute redesign, inflammable tape found inside the capsule and now the helium leak.

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