Boeing Starliner launch scrubs again Saturday after problems emerge

Astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore were awaiting a launch when a hold was issued with less than 4 minutes until launch on Saturday.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Another launch attempt of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft was scrubbed again Saturday afternoon after several issues were reported during the countdown on Florida’s Space Coast.

Issues arose with valves and the air-circulating fans for the astronauts’ suits an hour before launch, but a computer system known as a ground launch sequencer halted the countdown.

The countdown clock was down to 3 minutes and 50 seconds before the launch team called for a hold.

Crews immediately started working on securing the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket after the hold, with the hopes that they could attempt a launch during the next week.


The inaugural flight is considered to be the final test to find this spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. 

Starliner was expected to launch Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore into space last summer, but Boeing revealed significant issues with the spacecraft after examining data from an uncrewed space flight in May 2022.

Saturday’s countdown was Boeing and ULA’s second attempt in less than a month to get the spacecraft and crew into orbit. This week also marks four years after SpaceX first successfully launched two NASA astronauts to the space station, returning human spaceflight to American soil after a nine-year gap. 

Boeing's May 6 launch attempt was scrubbed after it was determined that a faulty oxygen relief valve needed replacing. The rocket was transferred back to an assembly building for repairs.

Issue at launchpad under investigation

After the most recent launch attempt, NASA, Boeing and ULA leaders said teams are working on the issue with the ground support equipment at Launch Complex 41 and assessing the next steps for a potential launch attempt later this week. 

Saturday's launch hold was automatically triggered for an unknown reason within the launch sequencer at the pad. 

ULA CEO Tory Bruno said there are three large computers at the launchpad that run "health checks" on the three racks that control the launch sequencer. When a check was run in the countdown, one of the three "was slow to come up, and that tripped a red line that created an automatic hold," Bruno said. 

"The leading suspect would be either a hardware problem or a problem with the network communication between the three computers in the system that interrogates them, but we won't really know until we get physical access and can troubleshoot that one rack that has this one card that came up slow," Bruno said.

On Sunday, Bruno said on X, formerly Twitter, that the ground system launch sequencer had been repaired and that teams were testing it. 


When it happens, Starliner will carry the two astronauts and more than 700 pounds of cargo to the space station when launched. 

The mission is expected to last more than a week before the Starliner will make the return trip home. The spacecraft will land with the help of a parachute system in the Desert Southwest.

"You always want to have a backup position and, in this case, a second spacecraft. For example, when we go to the Moon, we will have two landers. We will have a SpaceX lander – that is first – and then the Blue Origin lander. But this is a significant launch of a test of a brand-new human-rated spacecraft, and it is only the sixth in the history of NASA," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

According to NASA, the next possible launch attempts are on June 5 and 6.