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NASA has once again postponed the launch of Boeing's first manned spacecraft

NASA has once again postponed the launch of Boeing's first manned spacecraft

On Saturday, the US space agency NASA once again postponed the launch of Boeing's first manned spacecraft, and the new launch date may be Wednesday at the earliest.

The years-awaited mission, whose liftoff was canceled at the last minute in early May, was intended to allow Starliner to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sonny Williams, two veteran astronauts, were supposed to launch into orbit on Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The astronauts were already seated in the Starliner capsule on top of the rocket when the countdown was stopped by a computer that automatically checked the last data before liftoff.

The two astronauts were tasked with testing the space capsule on its maiden flight before NASA cleared it to regularly transport crews to and from the International Space Station.

The next launch opportunity will be on Wednesday and Thursday, according to space agency information.

Ten years ago, NASA ordered two new astronaut vehicles from the American companies Boeing and SpaceX to transport their astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX has been operating as a space taxi for four years. The mission is important to NASA because the second vehicle will be better able to handle potential emergency situations.

The cancellation of Saturday's launch represents another setback for a mission that was already years behind schedule.

In early May, the launch was canceled at the last minute due to a problem with one of the rocket's valves, which has since been replaced. Five years ago, in 2019, during the first unmanned test, the spacecraft failed to enter the correct orbit and returned without reaching the International Space Station.

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Another attempt in 2021 was postponed due to a problem with clogged capsule valves. The crewless vehicle was finally able to reach the International Space Station in May 2022. Other problems were later discovered, particularly problems with the parachutes braking the capsule as it reentered the atmosphere, leading to further delays.

Butch Wilmore, 61, and Sonny Williams, 58, have been preparing for this mission for years. They are both test pilots and were actively involved in the development of the Starliner. Both have already traveled twice to the International Space Station, where they will spend just over a week this time.

After the space shuttles were shut down in 2011, NASA astronauts were forced to travel aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. In order to end this accreditation, the US Space Agency signed a contract with Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 to develop new spacecraft. To everyone's surprise, SpaceX greatly surpassed Boeing in delivering the first astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2020.

Once Starliner is operational, NASA hopes SpaceX and Boeing will alternate flights.

Featured image: MTI/EPA

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