NASA once again postpones the first manned flight of astronauts into space on board the Boeing Starliner

The agency said the next launch opportunity would be on Wednesday.

NASA has once again postponed the first crewed flight into space aboard Boeing’s Starliner, canceling the Saturday afternoon launch just minutes before it was scheduled to begin.

The space agency said the launch was canceled “because the ground-based launch sequencer computer was not loaded into the correct operational configuration after initiating the final count.”

NASA added that United Launch Alliance, which manufactures and operates the rockets that launch the spacecraft into orbit, is “working to understand why.”

NASA said it would provide an update on Sunday on the scheduled launch date. The next available launch opportunities are June 5 and 6, according to NASA.

Once teams can safely access the rocket, they will begin looking at the computer system, said Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance. Bruno said they have all the spare parts they need, and the next opportunity to launch will be on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Starliner was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida for a roughly 24-hour journey to the International Space Station.

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The spacecraft can carry seven people, but this test drive will include only two NASA astronauts: Barry Wilmore, 61, and Sunita Williams, 58.

Williams and Willmore are expected to spend one week aboard the International Space Station and will evaluate the spacecraft and its systems.

Upon its return, the Starliner spacecraft will deploy parachutes and an airbag system, landing the astronauts in the western United States.

If the mission is successful, NASA could license the Starliner vehicle to fly routine missions to and from the International Space Station. NASA primarily uses SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station.

These missions are part of NASA’s larger Commercial Crew Program, which uses American rockets and spacecraft to send astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station in hopes of helping NASA prepare for upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars.

Saturday’s attempt was just the latest Starliner launch to be postponed.

The launch was initially scheduled for May 6, but was canceled after a problem with an oxygen valve on a United Launch Alliance rocket. A new date was set for May 25, but a small helium leak was discovered in the service module that contains support systems and instruments to operate the spacecraft.

NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to develop the Starliner, but after a decade, the company has lost nearly $1.5 billion due to delays.

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