Boeing's first crewed flight to the International Space Station moved to June after 'small leak' on new capsule was fixed

Boeing aims to launch its first astronaut mission with the Starliner in early June A small helium leak in the propulsion system was discovered before May launchThe spaceship will safely fly two test pilots to the International Space Station

Boeing is now aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June, after spending the past few weeks struggling with more problems on the space capsule.

Officials for the company and NASA said that intensive reviews indicate the Starliner capsule can safely fly two test pilots to the International Space Station, despite a propulsion system leak.

The small helium leak was discovered following the first launch attempt on May 6 that was scuttled by an unrelated rocket problem which has now been fixed.

Engineers suspect a defective rubber seal the size of a shirt button, and say that even if the leak worsens, it could be managed in flight.

Boeing's Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station a day after May's mission to the ISS was scrapped

Boeing's Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station a day after May's mission to the ISS was scrapped

Two veteran astronauts, Suni Williams (left) and Butch Wilmore (right) will take off for the ISS next month aboard Boeing's Starliner

Two veteran astronauts, Suni Williams (left) and Butch Wilmore (right) will take off for the ISS next month aboard Boeing's Starliner

There have been multiple issues with Starliner since its first uncrewed test launch in 2019 where it experienced a series of software issues and ended up stranded in the wrong orbit, forcing it to return to Earth early without docking with the station

All of the capsule's other seals checked out, said NASA's commercial crew program manager Steve Stich, prompting managers to target June 1 for the launch.

This will be the third test flight for Starliner. Demos in 2019 and 2022 had no one aboard.

Boeing had to repeat the empty flight because of software and other flaws the first time.

If not for the Atlas V rocket's bad valve that halted the first countdown, Starliner would have launched from Cape Canaveral earlier this month with the leak first detected in orbit, according to Stich.

Flight controllers would have managed the leak, and the astronauts would have been safe, officials stressed.

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, plagued with problems since first launching in 2019, has been stacked on top of an Atlas V rocket ahead of a crucial test flight

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, plagued with problems since first launching in 2019, has been stacked on top of an Atlas V rocket ahead of a crucial test flight

Boeing is aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June which will send the pair to the International Space Station

Boeing is aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June which will send the pair to the International Space Station

Next month, Boeing's Starliner will take off for the ISS attached to the Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida (pictured)

Next month, Boeing's Starliner will take off for the ISS attached to the Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida (pictured)

Boeing's Starliner capsule is seen atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station earlier this month

Boeing's Starliner capsule is seen atop an Atlas V rocket is seen at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station earlier this month

Helium is used to pressurize the fuel lines of the propulsion system, which maneuvers the capsule in flight.

Engineers now know the location of the leak and 'that's going to help us with improving the system in the future,' said Boeing program manager Mark Nappi.

'Remember, this is a test flight. We're still learning,' Nappi told reporters.

Identification of the Starliner leak led to the discovery of yet another problem - 'a design vulnerability' in the propulsion system in the unlikely event of a string of failures, Stich said.

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aims to transport crew to the ISS

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aims to transport crew to the ISS

The Starliner was supposed to liftoff in May carrying two astronauts, but was delayed due to a small leak. Pictured: Suni Williams (left) and Butch Wilmore (right)

The Starliner was supposed to liftoff in May carrying two astronauts, but was delayed due to a small leak. Pictured: Suni Williams (left) and Butch Wilmore (right)

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The team has developed workaround methods to get the capsule safely out of orbit at flight's end if such problems arise, he added.

'We're not going to fly until we're sure we're safe,' NASA Associate Administrator Jim Free said.

Boeing's Starliner capsule is already years late in transporting astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA.

SpaceX has been launching crews since 2020. NASA wants both companies for taxi service so they can back each other up.

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