NASA and Boeing Confirm Starliner Launch Despite Propulsion Leak – Targeting June 1 Launch Date

Cape Canaveral, Florida – Boeing and NASA are forging ahead with the upcoming launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule, despite encountering a “stable” leak in the spacecraft’s propulsion system. Addressing the press, Boeing Vice President Mark Nappi expressed confidence in managing the identified leak, assuring that it does not pose a safety risk for the upcoming crewed mission.

The Starliner Crew Flight Test is scheduled for June 1, with backup opportunities slated for June 2, June 5, and June 6. This mission marks a significant milestone for Boeing, as it aims to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station in a test of the spacecraft’s capabilities before embarking on routine missions.

Starliner’s crew debut has faced considerable delays, with rival SpaceX’s Dragon capsule already conducting NASA astronaut missions regularly since 2020 under the Commercial Crew program. Despite setbacks costing Boeing $1.5 billion and NASA nearly $5 billion, the aerospace company remains committed to launching its spacecraft successfully.

Following a scrubbed launch attempt in early May due to an issue with the Atlas V rocket, Boeing and NASA detected a small helium leak in the Starliner spacecraft. This discovery prompted a reassessment of the capsule’s readiness for the upcoming mission, with NASA officials working diligently to address the issue before the scheduled launch date.

NASA and Boeing believe the source of the leak stems from a seal in the spacecraft’s helium propulsion system. While acknowledging the complexity of the situation, Steve Stich of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program outlined plans to monitor the leak leading up to launch and reassess its impact once the spacecraft reaches the International Space Station.

The collaborative effort between NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will undergo further review to address the leak ahead of the rescheduled launch date. With a commitment to safety and thorough preparation, the team aims to overcome challenges and achieve a successful launch of the Starliner capsule into orbit.