Boeing to roll the dice on a leaky Starliner June 1: Here's how to watch

Boeing to roll the dice on a leaky Starliner June 1: Here's how to watch
Boeing will try to launch Starliner ... again
Boeing will try to launch Starliner ... again
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Boeing will try to launch Starliner ... again
Boeing will try to launch Starliner ... again

After years of delays and mishaps, Boeing is taking another shot at launching its Starliner spacecraft with a crew aboard despite a leaky helium valve. Here's how to watch the event, which is scheduled for 12:25 pm EDT on June 1.

Space launches, especially with astronauts sitting atop the rocket, can be dramatic affairs, but the upcoming Starliner launch is almost like watching a roulette wheel spin. The spacecraft designed to ferry cargo and crew to and from the International Space Station (ISS) has suffered from 14 years of cost overruns, delays, mission aborts, and an ill-fated maiden uncrewed flight, but after several embarrassing years Boeing has more than its reputation riding on this flight.

The problem is that Starliner keeps getting last-minute aborts. On May 6, 2024, NASA astronauts Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Sunita Williams sat aboard Starliner atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. Then, with only hours left on the countdown, the launch was scrubbed due to a problem with an oxygen valve in the Centaur upper stage.

Starliner watch

True, the Atlas V wasn't the Starliner, but Boeing owns 50% of ULA, so it was still an egg-on-face moment. The launch was then set back to May 21, then May 25, and then indefinitely when a helium leak was discovered in the propulsion system of Starliner's service module.

Now, it looks like Boeing is taking a bit of a gamble by going ahead with the launch on Saturday instead of taking the spacecraft apart to fix the leak. Boeing and NASA engineers have agreed to take the risk even though there's a chance that the propulsion system could fail in orbit, preventing Starliner from returning to Earth.

However, in a briefing on 24 May, Steve Stich, program manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said, "We could handle this particular leak if that leak rate were to grow even up to 100 times." So there's probably nothing to worry about.

Of course, that assumes Starliner actually gets into orbit. If you want to tune in, you can click on the embedded live feed or you can follow the launch on NASA TV.

A boondoggle, pure and simple. SpaceX mooted this project almost decade ago.
Brian M
'So there's probably nothing to worry about' of course there isn't.......... Bet the crew are getting a good bonus, with generous death benefits.
Rick O
Ummm, should this maybe become an un-crewed mission? Praying for the astronauts, even though they're claiming this is a minor problem. Of course, I'm sure a lot of past missions, especially in the shuttle days, had problems like this that you just didn't hear about.
They’re both experienced astronauts so they know what they’re doing.
It isn’t the specifics of the helium leak that I find disturbing so much as a sense that Boeing and co are so desperate to launch, that the safety culture is being compromised; and that isn’t a good thing.
And the most likely outcome happened, they cancelled again before launch.