June 16, 2024

Boeing’s launch of the Starliner has been repeatedly delayed.

Boeing’s launch of the Starliner has been repeatedly delayed.
Image: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

Boeing has had its share of issues this year, but it’s not letting one of them get the best of it.

The troubled aerospace giant has a June 1 launch date for its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft — and it’s sticking to it.

Since it was first put into development about 14 years ago, the Starliner has been hit with repeated delays caused by everything from burning through fuel too quickly to missed testing. The spacecraft was supposed to begin transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station in 2014, but still is yet to make a launch.

When May began, it seemed the Starliner would finally make that trip and shuttle a crew into space on May 6. Then engineers found a faulty valve, which was swiftly followed by the discovery of a helium leak in the service module, where the propulsion system is.

Although that leak was initially thought to put Beoing’s plans on an indefinite pause, now it seems like a minor issue.

“We can handle this particular leak if that leak rate were to grow even up to 100 times,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, told reporters Friday, according to the Agence France-Presse. He added that just one of 28 thrusters used to control the spacecraft’s altitude has been affected by the leak.

For a time last week, it was thought that the delay caused by the leak could be indefinite. Now, unless something else happens, NASA expects to be able to do the launch on Saturday, June 1, a little after noon.

If another — minor — delay is needed, Boeing may make another attempt on June 2, June 5, or June 6.

—Melvin Backman contributed to this story

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