Boeing Starliner crewed test flight delayed indefinitely

Boeing's Starliner astronaut launch to the International Space Station has been delayed indefinitely. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

May 22 (UPI) -- Boeing's Starliner manned Crew Flight test has been indefinitely delayed after a string of issues, NASA officials said.

The launch has been scheduled for no earlier than Saturday, and no new date has been announced.

"The team has been in meetings for two consecutive days, assessing flight rationale, system performance and redundancy. There is still forward work in these areas, and the next possible launch opportunity is still being discussed," NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance said in a statement.

The original May 6 launch date to send a crew to the International Space Station was canceled, and subsequently the launch date was pushed back multiple times.

The Starliner has experienced several different issues that delayed the launches, including a problem with a pressure valve on the Centaur upper stage oxygen tank and a small helium leak in the spacecraft service module.

Florida Tech's Don Platt, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and Science, told WESH-Ch. 2 that with people onboard, the launch team is being extra careful.

"I think that if a satellite was onboard this rocket, it might be in orbit right now. But there's no reason to make bad choices and risk anything on a test flight that has some level of risk associated with it," he said.

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams have been in quarantine through these launch delays. They returned to Houston on May 10 to spend more time with their families as the prelaunch procedures continue.

Starliner failed to reach the space station in 2019 after a software issue that put the spacecraft in the wrong orbit. Another uncrewed flight in 2022 made it after dealing with dozens of issues.

Starliner's Crew Flight Test mission to the space station is developmental, and NASA and Boeing officials have said safety is emphasized over launch schedules.