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Boeing’s Starliner Crewed Mission Delayed Again, New Launch Date Set for May 21


Is Third Time the Charm for Boeing's Starliner Mission?

NASA and Boeing are hoping that the third attempt at launching the Starliner spacecraft on its inaugural crewed mission to the Space Station (ISS) will proceed without any hiccups. The launch of Starliner, which was scheduled for May 7th and 17th respectively, had to be scrubbed both times due to technical issues encountered by the spacecraft.

On the initial launch date, high pressure was detected in the Atlas V rocket's valve necessitating the spacecraft to be rolled back. Then just days before the rescheduled launch, engineers found a small helium leak in one of Starliner's thruster components used for maneuvering. Helium pressurizes the fuel powering the thrusters.

Starliner is now slated for liftoff on May 21st from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying two experienced NASA astronauts – Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore. The mission, dubbed Orbital Flight Test-2, will be Starliner's final demonstration flight to ISS before it's certified to fly routine ISS crew rotation missions alongside SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

Developed over the past decade under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Starliner aims to provide the space agency with another US vehicle to transport astronauts alongside Crew Dragon. While SpaceX completed its inaugural crewed mission in 2020, Starliner suffered technical glitches during its uncrewed test flight in 2019 which led to multiple delays and cost overruns exceeding $1.5 billion.

NASA and Boeing will be hoping that the third attempt for the crucial OFT-2 mission proves successful. A smooth Starliner launch and docking with ISS would be a major milestone for Boeing to finally get its crew transportation system operational. With back-to-back scrubbed launches so far though, all eyes will be on May 21st to see if it's truly third time lucky for Starliner.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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