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Boeing Says Starliner August Test Launch Still Possible

An Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule is prepared for launch to the International Space Station for a do-over test flight in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Aug. 2, 2021.

The aerospace company Boeing said Monday it could still test launch its Starliner crew capsule this month. The company had canceled a scheduled launch of the craft last week.

Boeing issued a statement Monday saying it was working on the problem that caused a prelaunch check to indicate an "unexpected valve position" in the spacecraft's propulsion system. The launch had been scheduled for Tuesday from the launch center of the U.S. space agency, NASA, at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

In its statement, Boeing said 13 valves in the Starliner's propulsion system failed to open as designed during that check. The company said that it spent the weekend "restoring functionality" to the propulsion system and that seven of the 13 problematic valves are now operating as designed, "with inspection and remediation of the remaining affected valves to be performed in the days ahead."

Boeing said further inspections indicated there had been no lasting damage to the system. The company said it was working with NASA and United Launch Alliance — the company that builds the launch rocket for the capsule — to assess "multiple launch opportunities" for the Starliner this month.

Last week's postponement was the latest setback for the seven-passenger Boeing spacecraft, which was to be test-launched uncrewed to the International Space Station.

It had originally been scheduled to be launched July 30, but that was canceled after the Russian lab module, Nauka, caused chaos at the space station. The Russian module unexpectedly fired its thrusters, which tilted the space station 45 degrees outside its typical orientation.

The Starliner launch had been seen as an opportunity for Boeing to redeem itself after an aborted initial test launch of the spacecraft in December 2019. NASA officials say that a software problem sent the capsule into the wrong orbit and it was not able to reach the space station.