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The first crew launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule is on hold indefinitely

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on the eve of the first crew launch attempt earlier this month.

Enlarge / Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on the eve of the first crew launch attempt earlier this month. (credit: Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo/AFP via Getty Images)

The first crewed test flight of Boeing’s long-delayed Starliner spacecraft won’t take off as planned Saturday, and could face a longer postponement as engineers evaluate a stubborn leak of helium from the capsule’s propulsion system.

NASA announced the latest delay in the Starliner test flight late Tuesday. Officials will take more time to consider their options for how to proceed with the mission after discovering the small helium leak on the spacecraft’s service module.

The space agency did not describe what options are on the table, but sources said they range from flying the spacecraft “as is” with a thorough understanding of the leak and confidence it won’t become more significant in flight, to removing the capsule from its Atlas V rocket and taking it back to a hangar for repairs.

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