CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION — Boeing will be taking more time to assess a helium leak on its Starliner spacecraft, which will result in a new launch date for the maiden crewed flight, NASA confirmed on Friday.

What You Need To Know

  • After repeated setbacks, Boeing has identified Memorial Day Weekend for a possible launch of the maiden crewed Starliner flight

  • Boeing officials say they want more time to assess a helium leak on Starliner

  • The Starliner spacecraft is still on top of ULA's Atlas V rocket

Earlier this week, both NASA and Boeing announced a helium leak that was found on Starliner’s service module.

Boeing stated the leak was traced to a flange that is on the Starliner’s single reaction control system thruster. 

In a statement Friday, NASA officials said that more time was needed to assess the situation:

“The additional time allows teams to further assess a small helium leak in the Boeing Starliner spacecraft’s service module traced to a flange on a single reaction control system thruster. Pressure testing performed on May 15 on the spacecraft’s helium system showed the leak in the flange is stable and would not pose a risk at that level during the flight. The testing also indicated the rest of the thruster system is sealed effectively across the entire service module."

This means that the new launch for the maiden flight of the Starliner is Saturday, May 25, at 3:09 p.m. ET, according to the space agency.

Trying to get off the ground

This is not the first issue that has plagued the mission that will send a pair of NASA astronauts — Cmdr. Barry “Butch” Wilmore and pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams — to the International Space Station.  

The first launch attempt was on Monday, May 6, but at slightly more than two hours before the 10:34 p.m. ET liftoff, NASA and Boeing called off the launch due to an issue with a pressure regulation valve on a liquid oxygen tank on the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket’s Centaur upper stage.

United Launch Alliance is a joint business venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin

Boeing had planned for a second launch attempt on Friday at 6:16 p.m. ET, but that was canceled after it was announced that a small helium leak was discovered in the Starliner’s service module.

Both Boeing and NASA were hoping to send the mission off at 4:43 p.m. ET on Tuesday, May 21, but once again it has been pushed back due to Boeing assessing the leak and “develop operational procedures to ensure the system retains sufficient performance capability and appropriate redundancy during the flight,” NASA stated.

When the mission is ready to take off, it will do so from Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The Starliner spacecraft is still sitting on top of the Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, after it was rolled back for repairs after the first launch effort.


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