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Boeing's first crewed Starliner launch delayed again due to computer problems

Boeing's first crewed Starliner launch delayed again due to computer problems

Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are now targeting a June 2, 12:03PM ET crew launch for Boeing's Starliner capsule, which was cleared less than 4 minutes before liftoff on June 1. If the launch happens on Sunday, it will be the first time the Starliner, which has suffered multiple delays, will fly with humans on board.

NASA says ULA is currently investigating why a computer called the ground launch sequencer did not enter the "correct operational configuration," triggering the automatic hold. During a later press conference, ULA CEO Tory Bruno said the problem was that one of three redundant launch sequencers, which are used to control things like releasing connections to the rocket before launch, was slow to respond. He said if a solution is "as simple as changing a card," the launch will happen on the 2nd. Otherwise, the launch will be pushed back to June 5 or 6.

The purpose of this flight is to carry two American astronauts – Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams – to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will dock (NASA will also live stream it). Wilmore and Williams will stay on the station for a week to test the Starliner and its subsystems before NASA's final certification of the vehicle for rotational missions to the ISS.

Boeing's Starliner aborted its launch on May 6 after United Launch Alliance detected a problem with a pressure regulation valve in its Atlas V rocket. The Starliner also has a helium leak, which NASA has decided not to fix because it does not think it poses a threat to the mission, and fixing it would cause another long delay. Previously, Boeing's Starliner suffered repeated delays and setbacks, including a failed 2019 mission, but finally successfully docked its unmanned capsule with the ISS in 2022.

Starliner is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, in which the agency works with private companies to develop new spacecraft. SpaceX is also part of the program and has been launching NASA astronauts since 2020.

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