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The first crewed flight of the Boeing Starliner capsule has been delayed due to a rocket failure

(Reuters) – Boeing’s highly anticipated first crewed test flight of its new Starliner space capsule was called off for at least 24 hours due to a technical problem that launch teams could not resolve in time for the scheduled launch on Monday evening.

The final flight was canceled with less than two hours to go as the capsule prepared to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop an Atlas V rocket supplied by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, is prepared for launchBoeing's Starliner spacecraft, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, is prepared for launch

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, prepared for launch. (Reuters)

Two years after the first uncrewed trip to the International Space Station (ISS), Boeing’s new Starliner astronaut capsule was ready for its first crewed test flight on Monday evening, after numerous delays.

Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner spacecraft, developed in conjunction with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is designed to carry up to seven passengers, or a combination of crew and cargo, for travel to low Earth orbit.

Aboard the Starliner were NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, 61, a retired U.S. Navy captain, and Sunita “Suni” Williams, 58, a former Navy aviator and test pilot.

Shares of Boeing fell less than 1% in pre-market trading after the plane maker also faces a new FAA investigation into falsified 737 inspection data.

Here is a brief overview of the most important events of recent years:

September 4, 2015 – Boeing takes the wraps off an assembly plant for its first line of commercial spacecraft, which NASA plans to use to fly crews to the ISS.

November 4, 2019 – Boeing says one of three parachutes failed to open during a crucial unmanned test of the Starliner.

December 20, 2019 – Boeing successfully launches its new astronaut capsule on an unmanned debut trip to the ISS.

December 22, 2019 – The spacecraft makes a ‘bullseye’ landing in the New Mexico desert.

January 7, 2020 – NASA and Boeing are investigating software issues that prevented the capsule from reaching the ISS.

February 6, 2020 – Boeing narrowly misses a “catastrophic failure” during its December test flight.

August 25, 2020 – The first crewed Starliner mission is tentatively scheduled for 2021.

October 7, 2020 – The lead astronaut of the crewed Starliner flight to the ISS, Chris Ferguson, is stepping down from his position due to family priorities.

July 29, 2021 – An accident on the space station prompts NASA to postpone the launch of the Starliner.

August 3, 2021 – Boeing postpones a Starliner launch after a new glitch.

August 13, 2021 – Boeing returns the spacecraft to the factory to fix a valve problem, delaying the launch date.

May 19, 2022 – The Starliner capsule is launched for an unmanned test flight bound for the International Space Station.

May 20, 2022 – The new Starliner crew capsule docked with the International Space Station for the first time.

August 25, 2022 – Boeing aims for the first Starliner mission with astronauts in early 2023.

June 1, 2023 – Boeing says it is withdrawing from late preparations for its first crewed Starliner test flight into space, scheduled for July 2023, after discovering two safety-critical issues with the spacecraft.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes, Shivansh Tiwary and Nilutpal Timsina in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Gerry Doyle)