Boeing’s starliner launch scrubbed due to safety concerns.

Boeing’s highly anticipated crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft faced a dramatic setback as officials called off the launch just hours before liftoff on Monday. The decision came after the identification of a new safety issue, delaying a crucial test mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams were moments away from liftoff when engineers detected unusual readings from an oxygen relief valve on the rocket’s second stage, prompting a last-minute “scrub.”

“Standing down on tonight’s attempt to launch,” tweeted NASA chief Bill Nelson, reiterating NASA’s unwavering commitment to safety. The next possible launch window is on Tuesday night, pending updates on the issue’s severity and resolution.

The mission, plagued by years of delays, is pivotal for Boeing and NASA, aiming to certify the Starliner for crewed missions to the ISS alongside SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

Clad in Boeing’s distinctive blue spacesuits, the astronauts exited the spacecraft and returned to their quarters after the launch was scrubbed. Wilmore and Williams, both experienced space program veterans, have each visited the ISS twice before.

The Starliner, propelled by an Atlas V rocket, is set to rendezvous with the ISS for a weeklong stay, during which the crew will conduct tests to validate its functionality.

Boeing’s Starliner program has encountered numerous setbacks, including a software glitch during an uncrewed test flight in 2019 and valve blockages in 2021. Despite these challenges, NASA remains optimistic about the spacecraft’s potential role in future ISS missions.

Once operational, Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will alternate as NASA’s primary vehicles for crewed missions, ushering in a new era of commercial space travel.