The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Boeing Defense, Space and Security are delaying a manned-flight with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space capsule, from April until at least until July 21, according to reports. The Starliner is a reusable aircraft intended to transport crewmembers to low-Earth-orbit destinations, such as the International Space Station.
No specific reason was offered for the delay, some reports cite certification issues related to the capsule’s parachute system, as well as scheduling constraints with other missions scheduled to or from the ISS.
Last August a scheduled flight was put on hold until February of this year. In March, NASA and Boeing reported that the first manned mission (Crew Flight Test) for Starliner would ferry NASA astronauts to the ISS in April.
“We know that what we’re doing is extremely important, launching humans in space," according to Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program. "So we’ll take our time and we'll make sure that everybody is confident with the work that’s been done.”
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager for the Starliner Steve Stich appeared to minimize the significance of the delay in comments to the media on Wednesday. “The Starliner spacecraft is in really good shape,” Stich said. He also said the capsule is “largely ready for flight.”
In 2011 NASA hired Boeing as well as SpaceX to develop transport systems for its Commercial Crew Program, to carry astronauts to the ISS. Boeing designed the CST-100 to hold seven passengers, or a combination of crew members and cargo.
SpaceX has launched several manned flights using its own CCP vessel.
The Starliner capsule is designed as a weldless structure reusable for up to 10 space missions, with six months between missions.
The CST-100 is launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida via a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.