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Starliner launch now delayed indefinitely

Boeing and NASA have now delayed the first crewed launch of Starliner indefinitely as its teams continue to work to fix a helium leak.

In a statement released on Tuesday, NASA revealed it had been meeting for two days to assess flight rationale, system performance and redundancy in an attempt to fix the problem.

“There is still forward work in these areas, and the next possible launch opportunity is still being discussed,” it said.

The spacecraft was due to blast off to the ISS earlier this month, but the mission was scrubbed at the last minute because of a faulty valve on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage.


A subsequent attempt on 17 May was also repeatedly delayed, but this time due to the helium issue. The latest problem is thought to be linked to a flange in a thruster in the spacecraft’s service module.

May’s problems are the latest in years of issues for Starliner, which Boeing hopes will be able to regularly send US astronauts into space much like SpaceX’s rival Dragon capsule.

Starliner’s first attempt at an uncrewed flight failed in 2019 due to software glitches, but it eventually docked with the ISS in May 2022.

Boeing also has a lot riding on the success of Starliner, given years of problems with its best-selling 737 MAX aircraft.


In March, Space Connect’s sister brand, Australian Aviation, reported how Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and chairman Larry Kellner would both leave the aerospace giant by the end of the year amid a broader leadership reshuffle.

Calhoun said the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 accident in January, where an emergency exit door plug blew off a brand-new 737 MAX 9 over Portland, was a “watershed moment” for the company.

Boeing is now facing a criminal investigation over the incident, which led to the sacking of the head of its 737 program.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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