Boeing’s Starliner launch delayed due to computer issues

Starliner launch was to carry two American astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunny Williams
An undated image of Boeing 1 Starliner. — NASA
An undated image of Boeing 1 Starliner. — NASA

NASA's commercial programme is a partnership between the space agency and private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX aimed at providing safe and efficient transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond. 

Computer problems have caused yet another delay in Boeing's first crewed Starliner launch. The launch was aborted less than four minutes before liftoff when a launch computer failed to respond quickly enough, triggering an automatic hold. 

However, it is the latest in a string of delays and setbacks for Boeing's Starliner programme, which has been beset by repeated problems since the failed 2019 mission. Despite the challenges, NASA remains committed to a commercial crew programme, which has seen success with SpaceX's Crew Dragon. 

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The goal of the programme is to develop a reliable and cost-effective spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to the ISS and beyond. The Starliner launch was to carry two American astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Sunny Williams, to the ISS for a week-long mission. 

The crew will have tested Starliner systems and subsystems, paving the way for NASA's final certification of the craft for orbital missions to the ISS. 

Additionally, computer issues have pushed the launch to at least June 5, with the next two launch opportunities on June 5 and 6. According to NASA, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is investigating the cause of the computer malfunction that caused the launch. Grounds launches the sequencer by entering the correct operational configuration. 

Toy Bruno, CEO of ULA, explained that one of the three redundant launch sequencers was slow to respond, triggering the automatic hold. While the delay is disappointing, NASA and its partners are taking a cautious approach to ensure crew safety and mission success. The agency chose to extend the launch by a few more days to allow for more troubleshooting and testing of faulty equipment.