Boeing will try to launch its first crew on Starliner, again

The troubled aerospace behemoth Boeing will attempt again on Saturday to launch its first crew to the International Space Station on a Starliner spacecraft, following the cancellation of the previous effort only hours before takeoff.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are set to launch aboard a United Launch Alliance rocket on Saturday at 12:25 p.m. (1625 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, following inspections by engineering teams. The weather is really nice so far.

“We are excited for launch, and we have every confidence in this mission,” astronaut Mike Fincke, the backup crew member for the mission, told reporters in a press conference.

The US space agency is looking to certify Boeing as a second commercial operator to ferry crew to the orbital outpost — something Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already been doing since 2020.

Both businesses were awarded multibillion-dollar contracts in 2014 to construct their gumdrop-shaped, self-piloting crew capsules. The US was previously dependent on Russian rockets for transportation until the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

Due to its 100-year history, Boeing was given significant advantages over its then-new rival; nonetheless, the program has had years of delays and safety concerns, which are a reflection of the numerous issues plaguing its commercial airline operation.

On May 6, ground teams had to cancel Wilmore and Williams’ launch due to a malfunctioning rocket valve, even though they were strapped in and prepared to take off.

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