NASA to attempt Boeing Starliner launch on June 1

As Boeing and NASA try to resolve an issue with the Starliner spacecraft, teams are no longer attempting to launch on Saturday. A launch with NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore could come as early as June 1.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Boeing continues to troubleshoot a new issue with its Starliner spacecraft before the company tries again to launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station

The first attempt to launch NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams in early May ended in a scrub after a faulty liquid oxygen valve on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket required replacing. ULA replaced the valve, and the rocket is in the hangar at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida ready for the next launch attempt on June 1.

However, during the rocket repair, Boeing said it began working on an issue with the spacecraft. A small helium leak was detected on the spacecraft's service module. Starliner's propulsion system uses helium.

Boeing recently said teams needed additional time to assess the leak traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster. 

"Boeing teams are working to develop operational procedures to ensure the system retains sufficient performance capability and appropriate redundancy during the flight," NASA wrote in a blog post. "As that work proceeds, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the International Space Station Program will take the next few days to review the data and procedures to make a final determination before proceeding to flight countdown."

Crew Flight Test marks final milestone

The liftoff will begin the final test for Boeing's Starliner, known as the Crew Flight Test (CFT), to certify the spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts to and from the space station. 

In 2014, NASA awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the ISS with commercial spacecraft. SpaceX began flying NASA astronauts to the space station in 2020.


Starliner was set to launch Williams and Wilmore last summer, but Boeing managers revealed new issues with the spacecraft after further examining data from Starliner's second uncrewed orbital flight test in May 2022

When it happens, the astronauts will spend about a week on the International Space Station testing Starliner's systems before returning to Earth. 

A successful CFT will culminate in a soft landing of the Starliner spacecraft in the Southwest desert.