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Boeing Starliner's first crewed mission scrubbed | TechCrunch

Boeing Starliner's first crewed mission scrubbed | TechCrunch

Boeing Starliner Tonight's launch has been postponed “out of an abundance of caution” two hours before the historic lift-off. The Atlas V rocket's upper stage is reportedly scrubbing due to a problem with the oxygen relief valve.

There are backup launch opportunities on May 7, 10 and 11. After years of delays and a cost of more than $1 billion, the mission is Boeing's first attempt to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

After the problem with the upper stage was resolved, the United Launch Alliance launched the Atlas V CST-100 Starliner capsule with two astronauts – Butch Wilmore and Sunny Williams – into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 10:34 p.m. local time. will take Monday evening. This mission will be the first time ULA's Atlas will carry a crew. Rocket's success rate is 100% in 99 missions. (ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.)

The astronauts will now arrive at the station as early as Thursday, where they will stay for at least eight days. Both astronauts will return to Earth in the capsule before May 16.

If all goes according to plan, Boeing will finally be able to certify its Starliner for human transportation and begin fulfilling the terms of its $4.2 billion NASA astronaut taxi contract. That contract, under the agency's commercial crew program, was awarded in 2014. Elon Musk's SpaceX was also awarded a contract for its Crew Dragon capsule under the program, and has been carrying astronauts to and from the ISS since 2020.

While SpaceX has expanded its human transportation services, flying more than a dozen crewed missions and even launching private flights with Axiom Space and billionaire Jared Isaacman, Boeing has quickly fallen behind. . The aerospace giant originally attempted an uncrewed mission to the ISS in 2019, though which failed due to technical problems.; Further problems delayed the next attempt, until completion in 2022.

As of last year, Boeing had charged $1.5 billion for long delays to the Starliner program.

But despite the technical glitches, both NASA and Boeing have stressed their commitment to the safety of the mission and the two astronauts.

“The lives of our crew members, Sunny Williams and Butch Wilmore, are at stake,” NASA Associate Administrator Jim Frey said at a press conference late last month. “We don't take this lightly at all.”

In fact, a successful mission for NASA brings the agency one step closer to having two operational transportation providers, bringing significant redundancy to the commercial crew program. According to Boeing's contract, it is in line for six astronaut missions.

Musk took to X, the social media platform he also owns, to comment on the mission, saying that “even though Boeing got $4.2 billion to build the astronaut capsule and SpaceX only $2.6 billion Got the dollars, SpaceX ended 4 years ago.”

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