Boeing’s Starliner Ready for Historic First Crewed Space Launch This Saturday

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Boeing’s Starliner Program is scheduled to launch its first crewed space mission this weekend, after technical issues delayed the takeoff.

NASA and Boeing have both approved the important test flight that will take place on Saturday, 12:25 pm EDT at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (Florida). The first test flight will be carried out by two NASA astronauts and is intended to reach International Space Station.

The Atlas V rocket, which is built by United Launch Alliance, will carry the spacecraft with astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, and Sunita Wilmore. The program would be able to send astronauts back home if it were to make a successful orbital flight. NASA would authorize Boeing to organize regular trips.

This month, the program was delayed due to problems.

The flight was originally scheduled to depart on May 6. The flight was scrubbed due to a valve issue, a technical problem that further delayed the historic launch. A second attempt scheduled for 17 May was postponed due to a propellant spill and the need for additional testing.

Boeing announced Wednesday that it has backup launch options for Sunday and some other dates in June 5, 6, and 7.

Last week, mission controllers reported that the valve had been replaced but the helium leaking would not be addressed until the scheduled takeoff.

According to Agence France-Presse, Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said: “We could handle this leak if the leak rate increased even by 100 times.”

Wilmore and Williams were previously quarantined at Houston to work on technical issues. Boeing reports that they returned to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Tuesday and will remain in quarantine until Saturday at the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building.

If everything goes according to plan, the crew would spend one week in the station before returning to Earth.

Boeing has been developing the Starliner Program for more than 10 years, in order to provide NASA with another option when it comes to sending astronauts to space station. Boeing, with a completed mission will compete more against SpaceX, owned and operated by Elon Musk. SpaceX has been transporting astronauts to space station since 2020.