United Launch Alliance needs more time to troubleshoot issues
Boeing’s test flight of its astronaut capsule Starliner delayed to Dec. 19
United Launch Alliance is pushing back the launch that will test Boeing’s astronaut capsule on a mission to the International Space Station by a few days as it troubleshoots issues.
The launch provider, whose Atlas V rocket will carry the capsule to the ISS, said Tuesday morning that the mission is being moved from Dec. 17 to Dec. 19. It’ll take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s launch complex 41.
During pre-launch processing, ULA found an issue with the rocket’s “purge air supply duct.” The ULA and Boeing teams will need more time to complete an analysis of the issue and replace the duct.
“We continue to work closely with Boeing to ensure that the Starliner flies as soon as the spacecraft and launch vehicle are ready,” ULA said in a news release.
Boeing is one of two companies under contract with NASA to develop astronaut capsules that would allow the United States to fly crew to the ISS from American soil, something that hasn’t happened since 2011 when the space shuttle program ended.
But both Boeing and SpaceX, the other contractor, have faced numerous development hurdles.
SpaceX successfully completed a test flight of its astronaut capsule, Crew Dragon, in March. Boeing’s mission will be similar, and it will also not carry crew.
The test flights are important precursors that both contractors need to complete successfully before astronauts are allowed to fly in the vehicles.