The US space agency NASA has postponed the first manned test flight of the crisis-ridden Starliner spacecraft due to technical problems. The flight is now scheduled to take off on May 17 at 6:16 p.m. local time (May 18 at 12:16 a.m. CEST) at the earliest, NASA announced on Tuesday (local time).

The test flight, which had already been postponed several times, was canceled on Tuesday night shortly before the planned launch due to abnormalities in an oxygen valve on the “Atlas V” rocket. After a thorough check, it was now decided to replace the valve, it said. Further checks will also be carried out at the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida from Wednesday.

Astronauts remain in quarantine

According to NASA, the two NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Suni Williams will remain in quarantine until the next launch attempt. The plan had actually been for Wilmore and Williams to set off with the “Starliner” on its first manned test flight to the International Space Station (ISS). They were supposed to arrive there this Wednesday and stay for around a week. For the arrival of the “Starliner”, the “Crew Dragon” that was docked there was moved to another docking station on the ISS.

In May 2022, the “Starliner,” developed and built by US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, completed a successful unmanned flight to the ISS for the first time and spent four days there – an important test for the spacecraft. In the future, it will transport astronauts to the ISS as an alternative to SpaceX’s “Crew Dragon” space capsule. However, due to a number of problems, the project is well behind schedule.