May 20, 2024

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NASA Starliner launch with Tennessee astronaut Barry Wilmore delayed.  What we know

NASA Starliner launch with Tennessee astronaut Barry Wilmore delayed. What we know

The scheduled launch of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft with Middle Tennessee native and astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore on Monday has been postponed due to a technical issue, officials said.

The launch was canceled about two hours before liftoff because workers saw a defect in the oxygen relief valve, according to NASA. According to NASA, the postponed launch will take place no later than Friday, May 10, “pending resolution of the technical issue.”

Wilmore, a Mount Juliet High School graduate and Tennessee Tech University alumnus, and Sonny Williams are the two astronauts NASA plans to deploy as the first human crew aboard a Boeing Starliner, which plans to visit the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Sonny Williams and Barry come out

NASA astronauts Sonny Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore emerge from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Exit Building at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 31, 2024, as part of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test Integrated Crew Exercise Simulator.

Barry Wilmore spoke with his brother Jack after the launch was cancelled, according to their father, Eugene Wilmore, who now lives in Hermitage.

“Barry remains optimistic,” Eugene Wilmore said. “That’s the way it is.

“He knows that everything has to be perfect before any launch.”

The flight test that discovered the faulty valve was designed to help NASA determine whether the Starliner system is ready for regular crew rotation missions to the space station.

This Starliner launch has faced previous delays due to technical complications. But the spacecraft has made trips to the International Space Station without astronauts.

“I spoke with the crew right before we came here,” Mark Nappi, vice president and director of Boeing’s commercial crew program, said at a news conference after the launch was called off. “They are in good spirits. “They completely understand this kind of situation… It’s not the majority of things, everything has to go well before we start.”

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NASA’s Commercial Crew Program contracted with Boeing for a spacecraft system capable of traveling to the space station, in part so that NASA would have a second option if one is not in operation.

SpaceX is also under contract to the Commercial Crew program, and has flown crew rotation missions to the space station since 2019 using its Dragon capsule.

Contact Andy Humbles at [email protected] or 615-726-5939 and on X, formerly known as Twitter @AndyHumbles.

This article originally appeared in Nashville Tennessee: NASA and Boeing launch delayed with Tennessee astronaut Barry Wilmore