Boeing tries again to launch NASA astronauts for the first time after latest round of repairs

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Boeing prepared again Wednesday for its first astronaut launchblocked for years by security problems.

It was the third launch attempt For Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, NASA test pilots in Boeing’s Starliner capsule. Rocket issues thwarted the first two countdowns.

The astronauts will test Starliner’s systems en route to the International Space Station, where they will spend at least a week before aiming for a landing in the western United States.

NASA hired Boeing and SpaceX after the space shuttles were retired to transport astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX has been transporting astronauts since 2020.

Boeing’s capsule was launched into orbit in 2019 without a crew, but that test flight was interrupted by software problems. Boeing had better luck during the 2022 overhaul mission, but parachute problems and other problems were later discovered, further delaying the Starliner crew’s debut.

Minutes before takeoff scheduled for Saturday, a computer power supply failed at the base, which had to be replaced by rocket manufacturer United Launch Alliance. And a faulty valve inside the Atlas V rocket canceled the launch attempt in early May.

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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 AP is solely responsible for all content.

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