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Boeing will not fix the leak on the Starliner before takeoff

Boeing will not fix the leak on the Starliner before takeoff

The first manned spaceflight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, which has been postponed several times, is preparing for liftoff on June 1 without fixing the helium leak that was discovered on the spacecraft, the American company and NASA announced on Friday.

The launch of this mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which is extremely important for Boeing and has been long-awaited for years, has been postponed several times.

Liftoff was canceled at the last minute on May 6 – while the two astronauts making up the crew were already strapped onto the plane – due to a problem with the rocket's valve, which has now been fixed.

NASA then announced that it had detected a “small helium leak” on the ship. Boeing explained that helium is used in the ship's propulsion system, and said it is working to solve the problem with NASA.

But officials told reporters that Boeing and NASA had made the decision to lift off the spacecraft without repairing it.

“We can manage this leakage, even if the rate is 100 times greater,” said Steve Stich, a senior NASA official.

He explained that the problem affects only one of the 28 engines controlling the ship, adding that some flights have already been carried out with similar leaks.

Mark Nappi, a Boeing manager, assured him that fixing the leak would have been a “fairly complex” operation and would have required dismantling the ship.

Instead of repairing it, NASA teams will monitor it closely several hours before liftoff scheduled for June 1 at 12:25 p.m. (4:25 p.m. GMT) in Florida.

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Boeing is playing a big role in this final test mission, which should allow it to prove its ship is safe before beginning regular missions to the International Space Station (ISS) — four years behind SpaceX.

For NASA, which ordered this vehicle ten years ago, the risks are also high: having a second vehicle, in addition to the SpaceX vehicle, to transport American astronauts, would make it possible to better respond to “various emergency scenarios,” according to For example, if a problem occurs on a ship.