NASA and Boeing are now targeting April for the first crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, the company’s spacecraft designed to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The new launch date marks a two-month delay from the most recent plan.
In a blog post, NASA said moving the launch to April “deconflicts” with spacecraft that are scheduled to visit the space station next year.
“We understand our customer must consider the needs of the International Space Station in scheduling the certification flight of a second U.S. commercial crew transportation system,” Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Starliner, said in a statement. “We are working to have the CFT vehicle ready to fly ahead of the new launch date.”
Boeing noted in its update that it’s still refurbishing the Starliner crew capsule, which previously flew in December 2019, and production is still underway for the service module hardware that provides support for the capsule during flight.
Boeing is one of two companies, along with SpaceX, selected by NASA as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Both are tasked with developing private spacecraft capable of delivering NASA’s astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
For this flight, Starliner is set to launch on a roughly eight-day mission to the ISS, carrying two NASA astronauts. It’ll mark the first time that Starliner will take people to and from space. In May, Boeing successfully launched Starliner on an uncrewed test flight to the space station. The mission was deemed a success, despite experiencing multiple issues throughout the flight.Boeing’s Starliner program has suffered from a variety of setbacks over the years, creating extra expense for Boeing. The company recently took out a $195 million charge for Starliner last quarter, bringing the total cost of the program to Boeing up to $883 million since 2020.
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