NASA delays Boeing Starliner crewed launch again over helium leak

NASA / Joel Kowsky

NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) have postponed the first Boeing Starliner crewed launch to investigate a leak. 

The launch, initially scheduled for May 19, 2024, is now aimed for May 25. The delay is due to teams addressing a minor helium leak in the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s service module. 

“The additional time allows teams to further assess a small helium leak in the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s service module traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster,” NASA explained.

Extensive testing on May 15, 2024, confirmed the security of the rest of the thruster system. 

This is the second time the launch has been delayed. The initial window, during the night between May 6 and 7, 2024, was missed due to a faulty valve.

The Boeing Starliner program is running several years behind schedule due to several technical issues. In December 2019, Starliner attempted its first flight to the ISS, but it was cut short after it missed its intended orbit. In May 2022, the spacecraft successfully docked with the ISS for the first time, although it was uncrewed.

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