Why was NASA's Starliner mission delayed? Again

The truth is that Boeing is not going through its best moments. Already in 2019 it was beginning to show problems with its Starliner spacecraft, designed for NASA, and more recently many of its planes have been involved in accidents. And the latest news is that NASA delayed, again, its first flight manned by astronauts to space on Boeing's Starliner.

Ten years ago, NASA awarded Boeing a €4.2 billion contract to develop Starliner, but the company has since lost more than a third of the initial figure due to delays.

The launch was initially scheduled for May 6, but was canceled after a problem with an oxygen valve. A new date was set for May 25, but a small helium leak was discovered in the service module, which contains support systems and instruments to operate a spacecraft. Another delay. And on this occasion the launch was canceled “because the computer's ground launch sequencer was not loaded in the correct operational configuration after proceeding with the terminal count,” as NASA explained in a tweet.

United Launch Alliance, which manufactures and operates the rockets that put the spacecraft into orbit, “is working to understand the cause”, NASA added. Between Wednesday and Thursday, the space agency would give a new possible launch date.

The Starliner was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for a trip of approximately 24 hours to the International Space Station (ISS). The ship has the capacity to transport seven people, but this test will only have two NASA astronauts: Barry Wilmore, 61, and Sunita Williams, 58, and the goal was for both to spend a week aboard the ISS and evaluate the spacecraft and its systems.

Upon re-entry, the Starliner will deploy parachutes and an airbag system, taking astronauts to the western U.S. If the mission is successful, NASA could certify the Starliner to fly routine missions to and from Earth. ISS. Until now, NASA had primarily used SpaceX resources (specifically the Dragon spacecraft) to transport crew and cargo to the ISS. All this, obviously, is a first rehearsal for the “greater” missions: Prepare for trips to the Moon and Mars.