Takeoff of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft postponed to May 17

Takeoff of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft postponed to May 17
Takeoff of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft postponed to May 17

The first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has been postponed until May 17, NASA announced Tuesday, the day after a postponement decided just before takeoff due to a technical problem.

A takeoff attempt could take place “not before 6:16 p.m., Friday, May 17,” while a repair is made, the American space agency wrote in a press release.

This postponement hits a program marked by a series of setbacks, between unpleasant surprises and successive postponements.

On Monday, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft was to, finally and for the first time, take off with astronauts on board, heading for the International Space Station, and thus join the very private club of spaceships that have transported humans.

But about two hours before the scheduled launch time, and while the two American astronauts were installed in the capsule, the takeoff was canceled: an anomaly was identified on a valve of the Atlas V rocket which should propel the Starliner capsule in orbit.

Getty Images via AFP

In the evening, the date of Friday May 10 was mentioned for takeoff.

But additional analysis showed that the valve in question actually needs to be replaced, a job that requires the rocket to be returned to its hangar.

The two astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, will remain isolated in the meantime, NASA said.

Boeing is playing big on this final test mission, which should allow it to demonstrate that its ship is safe before starting regular missions to the Space Station (ISS) – four years behind SpaceX.

For NASA, which ordered this vehicle ten years ago, the stakes are also high: having a second vehicle in addition to that of SpaceX to transport American astronauts should make it possible to better respond to “different emergency scenarios”. , for example in the event of a problem on one of the ships.



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