Boeing astronaut capsule test flight delayed

New launch date: No earlier than Dec. 19

A rendering of the Boeing Starliner and ULA's Atlas V rocket. (Image credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Boeing’s first launch of its astronaut spacecraft will shift by at least two days to Dec. 19, officials with the company said.

The CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was originally scheduled to launch Dec. 17 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral but officials with ULA said an issue with the rocket will push liftoff by two days.

“Both the rocket and the spacecraft are healthy and moving through standard pre-launch processing,” Boeing officials said in a tweet.

The new launch time is 6:59 a.m. on Dec. 19, according to Boeing.

While crews were preparing the Atlas V rocket for launch, they discovered an issue with the rocket’s purge air supply duct, according to ULA.

“Additional time was needed for the ULA and Boeing teams to complete an analysis of the issue, replace the duct and complete processing ahead of launch,” ULA said in a statement. “We continue to work closely with Boeing to ensure that the Starliner flies as soon as the spacecraft and launch vehicle are ready.”

The first uncrewed test flight of the spacecraft to the International Space Station has been years in the making. Most recently, ULA and Boeing mated the capsule to the rocket at the launch facility.

The orbital flight test is part of the certification process for the spacecraft to ensure it’s ready to fly astronauts as part of NASA’s commercial crew program. SpaceX is also preparing its spacecraft, the Crew Dragon, to fly astronauts as soon as early next year.