- Boeing has postponed the launch of its spaceship taxi, Starliner, until at least July.
- A NASA manager said the data from Starliner’s parachute system needed reviewing.
- Fitting the date in among the busy launch schedule on the East coast was also a factor, he said.
Boeing on Wednesday announced it had delayed the first crewed launch of its Starliner spaceship by at least three months.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, designed to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, was scheduled to blast off in April with two astronauts onboard. The date has been pushed back to no earlier than July 21, according to Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Stich said in a media briefing on Wednesday that Starliner was “largely ready for flight” and most of the work could be finished by April. However, a review of Starliner’s parachute system needed to be extended into May, he said.
The parachutes come into action when Starliner falls through the Earth’s atmosphere and is about to land on the ground.
Stich said there were no issues or concerns with the parachutes and Starliner was in good shape. NASA and Boeing just need to take a “hard look” and review the data across all the parachute tests they’ve done, he said. Overall, the parachutes had been tested more than 20 times, he added.
Other reasons for the delay included balancing the schedules of other rocket launches planned to take off on the US East coast this year, per reports. This includes Axiom Mission 2, which is set for June, United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch this spring, and SpaceX’s CRS-28 cargo resupply mission in summer.
A NASA press release said around 10% of the certification items required for the flight test needed to be finished before the date.
Stich said July 21 was “the right time to go fly Starliner.”
As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the agency gave Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to build Starliner.
The spaceship showed it was capable of transporting people to the ISS in May when it successfully docked at the station for the first time. It came after a previous attempt failed in 2019 when Starliner couldn’t dock at the ISS because of a software error.