Boeing is scheduled to make its first spaceflight in early June

Boeing is scheduled to make its first spaceflight in early June

Boeing is now targeting its first astronaut flight in early June, after spending the past few weeks dealing with problems with the space capsule.

Company and NASA officials said Friday that extensive reviews indicate the Starliner capsule can fly safely with test pilots, despite a small leak in the propulsion system.

A helium leak was discovered after the first launch attempt on May 6 was aborted by an unrelated problem, and has been resolved.

Engineers suspected a faulty seal, which, even if the leak worsened, could be managed in flight. Boeing is targeting June 1 for the launch, which will take place in Florida.

Steve Stich, director of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said identifying the leak led to the discovery of a “design vulnerability” in the Starliner's propulsion system in the event of a series of unexpected malfunctions.

He added that the team has developed alternative methods to safely remove the capsule from orbit at the end of the flight if such problems arise.

“We're not going to fly until we're sure we're safe,” NASA associate administrator Jim Frye told reporters.

Boeing's Starliner capsule is years behind schedule in transporting astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA. SpaceX has been transporting crews since 2020. NASA wants both companies to provide a backup taxi service.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science and Education Media Group. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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