Starliner Crewed Launch Scrubbed


A valve issue caused NASA to scrub the first crewed launch of the Boeing Starliner capsule on Monday. The problem with the relief valve on the upper stage of the Atlas rocket was detected about two hours before the scheduled 10:34 p.m. launch from Cape Canaveral. β€œIn a situation like this, if we see any data signature is not something that we have seen before, then we are just simply not willing to take any chances with what is our most precious payload,” United Launch Alliance spokesman Dillon Rice told reporters. ULA is providing the rocket to boost the capsule into orbit for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams had just strapped in when the decision to scrub was made. It’s not known how long it will take to fix the valve. It’s the latest in a series of issues encountered getting the Starliner to space, although this is the first issue with the launch system. The first uncrewed test launch of the capsule in 2019 failed to get to the right orbit for the ISS. The second test reached the space station, but after it returned problems were found with the parachutes and flammable tape was discovered in the electrical system.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. So, why again are taxpayers forced to fund space travel, manned or unmanned? Can anyone name just one benefit to the private sector economy as a result? Government-funded jobs does not count. This is a huge example of “lost opportunity costs”, when one thinks of what the private sector could have done with the money stolen from us for space travel.

      • Perfect! And on the most appropriate level for Kent’s troglodytic “question”.

        Kent well knows the answer to his question, because his personal “private sector economy” has depended on the leap in computational power, not to mention the miniaturization associated with it, of the space race. (Hint: it wasn’t transistor radios.)

    • Agreed! It’s just like the horseless carriage fad. They’ll never amount to anything.

    • “Can anyone name just one benefit…”. Um, well other than weather satellites, GPS, high speed data communications for everything from ATM transactions to the internet, satellite TV networks, XM weather and data for GA cross-country flights, spy satellites to keep an eye on our adversaries, space-based telescopes to expand our understanding of the universe and a host of consumer goods and materials we use every day, I can’t think of a single thing. Oh, and by the way, the “private sector” is providing all those rockets, capsules and satellites that the government has supposedly built. Bear in mind, that the majority of rocket launches these days are done by private sector companies putting their own hardware up in space with no taxpayer money other than to provide some, but not all, of the launch complex facilities. Any other questions?

    • Well Frank, reading down the list of replies to your question, my curiosity is satisfied. Is yours? My hangar is #35 at EWK where coffee’s always on and actually not too bad tasting today. Seriously, come on over and get yourself a cuppa.

    • Oh my, what a response! Kudos to Kent for developing a new starting method. We’ve all heard of push starts, pull starts, key starts etc but what we have here is the true genesis of the KEYBOARD start. With a few simple keystrokes everyone is lit up and ready to go on turbo! What we are seeing here is the modern digital equivalent of the motivational speaker. Kent, you are one helluva fisherman! You’re not getting kickbacks from the internet/computer/electrical folks are you? Well deserved accolades!

    • Kent… first of all you are posting your question using satellite tech pioneered by NASA.
      You are on this forum because of NASA.
      Assuming you have the Google machine, ask your question “why again are taxpayers forced to fund space travel, manned or unmanned”. You’ll get answers. “NASA spinoffs”.
      Amazes me how many technological Luddites are amassed on this website.

  2. The engineering required to monitor the early astronauts vitals advanced by 30 years how patients were monitored in hospitals. Countless lives were saved by this technology. Challenging our engineering and technology is the only thing that allows us to keep up with our adversaries

    • Or a camcorder? The first one sent the live video feed of Armstrong setting foot on the moon.

  3. ULA was given a contract twice as costly as that given to SpaceX, which successfully carried people into space four years ago. I used to be a big Boeing fan, but they have lost their way.

  4. Based on all the snarky comments regarding Boeing (which are well deserved), I guess most missed the fact that the problem was a valve on the Atlas rocket, not on the Starliner capsule itself. The Atlas 5 rocket is made by United Launch Alliance, not Boeing, and it the the standard rocket used for most launches these days.

    • Daniel you can’t go about spouting factual, informative non-condescending statements. It would deprive us of the pithy, semi witty commentary about Bo…er wait U L A?

    • Very true that this was on Atlas and the did the right thing. They have had successful launches in the past with Atlas and I’m sure they’ll get this candle lit.

      But let’s not let Boeing off the hook since this whole thing was delayed not once, but twice due to Boeing’s /s Outstanding /s QA. Buggy software code, cabling wrapped in flammable material, questionable heat shield that even NASA is going “well, it mainly works so okay” on top of being over budget and very very late.

      Kent complains about “why the government” but here is an prime example of one private business sucking deeply from the Government teat with little to show and another sipping, being held to a higher standard and spending your tax dollars with vastly more ROI.

      Private business is not the panacea Kent, that you think it is.