Boeing Starliner astronaut launch pushed to May amid spring arrivals to International Space Station

ISS parking is maxed out for spring. Four astronauts arrived at the station last week after launching on the Crew-8 mission. Two supply missions are scheduled to launch in March and Boeing will launch two NASA astronauts in May.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – NASA said the first launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft with astronauts won’t happen until May because of "space station scheduling."

This spring is looking increasingly busy for the International Space Station, an orbiting laboratory where astronauts live and conduct research about 250 miles above Earth.

Before the latest delay, Boeing was scheduled to launch NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore in April to the ISS on the Crew Flight Test (CFT), the final test of the spacecraft before NASA certifies the vehicle to make more flights to the space station with astronauts.

Despite the latest push in the launch schedule, progress toward the Boeing CFT launch continues in Florida. Last month, United Launch Alliance stacked the Atlas V rocket that will launch Starliner at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.


NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts under the space agency’s Commercial Crew program in 2014 to develop human-rated spacecraft to fly NASA and partner agency astronauts to and from the ISS.

In 2020, SpaceX launched two American astronauts for NASA, marking the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Last week, the company founded by Elon Musk completed its ninth launch with NASA astronauts.

Boeing's certification to fly NASA astronauts has taken longer after the company started its spacecraft from scratch and faced a series of hiccups getting through the first orbital test flight without crew. 

Boeing engineers discovered new issues last summer after further examining data from the CST-100 Starliner orbital flight test (OFT) in May 2022, a repeat test flight from a botched attempt in 2019 that ended without docking at the ISS because of a computer glitch.

Still, the Starliner docking is just one of many astronaut and spacecraft arrivals to the orbiting lab early this year.

Four astronauts arrived at the ISS last week after launching on the Crew-8 mission with SpaceX. On Monday, the Crew-7 astronauts undocked from the space station and are scheduled to splash down off the coast of Florida on Tuesday morning. 

In mid-March, SpaceX is scheduled to launch a supply run for NASA to the ISS. On March 21, Russia will launch experiments and supplies to the orbiting laboratory.

The International Space Station has six spacecraft parking spots known as docking ports used by NASA's partners. Since SpaceX began launching crew and cargo launches, the astronauts have occasionally had to move spacecraft around in orbit to make room for new arrivals.