CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NEWSnet/AP) — Boeing is aiming for its first astronaut launch at the beginning of June.

Officials for the company and NASA said Friday that reviews indicate the Starliner capsule can safely fly two test pilots to the International Space Station, despite a propulsion system leak.

The small helium leak was discovered following the first launch attempt on May 6 that was called off by an unrelated rocket problem now fixed.

Engineers suspect a defective rubber seal the size of a shirt button, and say that even if the leak worsens, it could be managed in flight. All of the capsule’s other seals checked out, said NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stich, prompting managers to target June 1 for the launch.

This will be the third test flight for Starliner. Demos in 2019 and 2022 had no one aboard. Boeing had to repeat the empty flight because of software and other flaws the first time.

Boeing’s Starliner capsule is already years late in transporting astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA. SpaceX has been launching crews since 2020. NASA wants both companies for taxi service so they can back each other up.

Follow NEWSnet on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.