Starliner CFT Slips Again With No New Date Set

Starliner CFT Slips Again With No New Date Set

NASA has officially acknowledged that the Starliner Crew Flight Test will not take place on May 25. The launch has been on hold since May 6 first because of a bad valve on the launch vehicle and then with a helium leak in the spacecraft’s propulsion system. A new launch date is pending.

News that May 25 was no longer the planned launch date came from Bill Harwood at CBS News on X.

After complaints from others on X that NASA was not providing sufficient information, the agency sent an email at 9:31 pm ET confirming Harwood’s reporting.

Whenever it does lift off, this will be the first flight of Boeing’s Starliner commercial crew spacecraft with astronauts on board. It is a test flight, as the name makes clear, and NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are experienced NASA astronauts and Navy test pilots.

The crew of the Starliner Crew Flight Test, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams. Credit: NASA

They were settling into their seats on May 6 when the launch was scrubbed about 2 hours before the planned liftoff because of a bad valve in the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket’s Centaur upper stage. The rocket, with Starliner on top, had to be moved back to the Vertical Integration Facility to replace the valve.

While there, Boeing discovered a small helium leak in one of Starliner’s Reaction Control System thrusters needed for in-orbit maneuvering and in the event of a high altitude abort.

Boeing, NASA and ULA said on May 17 that the leak “is stable and would not pose a risk at that level during the flight,” but Boeing needed more time “to develop operational procedures to ensure the system retains sufficient performance capability and appropriate redundancy during the flight.”  They set May 25 as the “no earlier than” launch date.

Boeing needs still more time and a new date has not been set.

NASA consistently says safety is paramount and they will not launch until they are ready. The only question is whether they are keeping the public adequately informed.

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