Boeing’s Starliner Astronaut Launch Scrubbed Minutes Before Lift-off, NASA Delays for Computer Assessment

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Boeing’s long-awaited attempt to launch its Starliner spacecraft with astronauts on board was abruptly halted just minutes before liftoff on Saturday. The delay was attributed to a glitch in the automated computer system responsible for overseeing the final countdown sequence.

NASA announced that the launch would be rescheduled for the following week, potentially taking place on Wednesday or Thursday, to allow additional time to address the computer issue. Initially, there was consideration of attempting the launch on Sunday.

During a briefing following the postponement, ULA chief executive Tory Bruno explained that a crucial computer system, vital for releasing clamps holding down the rocket, was slow to activate. Consequently, the automated system initiated a countdown termination. ULA, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is in charge of orchestrating the launch.

Boeing’s mission aims to send NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore to the International Space Station for a week to assess the spacecraft’s performance with crew onboard. Despite the setback, NASA’s commercial crew program head Steve Stich expressed optimism about the readiness of the Starliner spacecraft for future missions.

The mission was initially slated for May 6, but faced delays due to technical issues with the rocket’s second-stage valve. The valve has since been replaced and successfully tested on Saturday.

Boeing’s Starliner project is part of NASA’s commercial crew program, which has outsourced transportation to the space station to Boeing and SpaceX. SpaceX has emerged as a leading commercial rocket and spacecraft manufacturer, conducting its first crewed test flight in May 2020.

Boeing’s Starliner has encountered setbacks and delays in its development phase, including issues with its onboard computer, flammable tape, and parachute system. Despite these challenges, both Boeing and NASA officials expressed confidence in the spacecraft’s readiness for the mission.

The collaboration between NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX highlights the growing reliance on commercial entities for space exploration and transportation, marking a significant shift in the space industry landscape. As the teams work towards resolving technical challenges, the anticipation for a successful Starliner mission remains high.