Boeing Starliner's historic 1st astronaut launch delayed by Atlas V rocket issue

CAPE CANAVERAL — Starliner will wait at least four more days for its first crewed launch.

Boeing's new commercial spacecraft, Starliner, waved off its first launch attempt late tonight (May 6) due to a problem with an "oxygen relief valve on the Centaur Stage on the Atlas V," NASA posted on X. Atlas V, the flight's rocket manufactured by United Launch Alliance, has flown missions since 2002 with a 100 percent success rate, but this is its first mission with astronauts.

"The engineering team has evaluated the vehicle is not in a configuration where we can proceed with flight today," an official in Mission Control said in a callout broadcast on NASA Television roughly two hours and one minute before the scheduled launch at 10:34 p.m. EDT (0024 GMT May 7).

Friday (May 10) is not the earliest possible launch target, according to NASA. When Starliner flies, you can watch the event here at, via NASA Television. 

Related: Boeing's Starliner is a 'big piece of America's overall strategy for access to low Earth orbit,' astronaut says

The Atlas V rocket topped with Starliner on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. (Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Once it goes to space, Starliner will carry its first astronaut crew to the International Space Station: Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Suni Williams. They are both former U.S. Navy test pilots as well as veteran International Space Station long-duration astronauts; their new Starliner mission is expected to spend about a week at the orbiting complex.

When Wilmore and Williams fly to space, they will be the first crew to do so from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station since Apollo 7 in 1968. They will also be the first humans to fly to space aboard an Atlas rocket since Gordon Cooper did so on Mercury-Atlas 9 in 1963.

NASA aims to have Starliner up and running for operational missions next year to meet its longstanding goal of sending two different spacecraft aloft from U.S. soil. The agency's other commercial crew vendor, SpaceX, has been sending crews to the ISS since its first test launch in 2020. will provide further updates on the situation when NASA, Boeing or ULA issue them.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 2 a.m. EDT on May 7 with news of the new target launch date of May 10.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon:

  • jimsuber
    No kidding. Wow. Hard to believe. (Himself, His Majesty)
  • Mergatroid
    I would count my lucky stars as my grandma used to say. I would be pretty nervous flying in anything made by Boeing these days.
  • thetentman
    As the astronauts say "If it's Boeing, we're not going".