Boeing Forced to Scrub First Astronaut Launch After Strange Buzzing Detected

Buzz Kill

The long-awaited crewed launch of Boeing's Starliner space capsule had to be delayed yet again — but this time, it wasn't Boeing's fault.

Two hours before countdown late Monday evening, the launch was scrubbed, with officials noticing a "buzzing," CNN reports, which later turned out to be an issue with a valve on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket.

In many ways, it's a routine issue — rocket launches get scrubbed all the time. Even SpaceX's first crewed launch of its Crew Dragon spacecraft was scrubbed due to bad weather four years ago.

However, Boeing's development of an alternative way to get to the International Space Station has already faced years of delays, major budget overruns, and considerable technical issues. That's not to mention a continuous stream of disasters plaguing Boeing's avionics department.

At the same time, it's important to note that Monday's scrub was due to a problem with ULA's rocket, not Boeing's cursed spacecraft.

According to ULA CEO Tory Bruno, who spoke at a press conference after the scrub, the buzzing was loud enough for teams to hear it.

"The team is just not comfortable with the signatures that they’re seeing, the response out of that valve, so out of an abundance of caution, we are not going to continue with our launch operations today," ULA launch commentator Dillon Rice said on NASA's livestream.

Boeing Boing Gone

Boeing resorted to forcing the offending valve to close, which stopped the buzzing. The process, however, was involved enough for teams to cancel the launch altogether.

Bruno later explained that the valve on the rocket would have to be replaced as it was already approaching its rated life of 200,000 cycles.

No official date for a followup launch attempt has been announced. In a Tuesday update, NASA said that Boeing and ULA "are targeting no earlier than Friday, May 10."

NASA, for its part, says it's in no rush.

"We’re not in a rush to fly from a station standpoint," said NASA ISS program manager Dana Weigel. "We did clear our summer schedule intentionally to give us plenty of runway for this [crewed flight test] mission."

More on the launch: Boeing Desperately Hoping Nothing Bad Happens When It Launches Astronauts Tonight