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Boeing's Starliner landing in December 2019. Photo: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Boeing has decided to re-fly an uncrewed test of its Starliner capsule after a troubled mission in December.

Why it matters: The decision delays Boeing's plans to fly people to space from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

  • It also puts the company firmly behind SpaceX, which plans to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as early as May.

Details: Boeing announced the redo on Monday evening, putting to rest speculation from others in the industry that they might press ahead with a crewed flight despite failing to dock with the space station in December.

  • A series of issues prevented the Starliner's planned docking and sparked an investigation by an independent board that recommended 61 corrective measures to the company.
  • "Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer," Boeing said in a statement.
  • The company expects to re-fly the uncrewed mission sometime this fall, though no date has been announced.
"This is exactly why NASA decided to select two partners in the commercial crew effort. Having dissimilar redundancy is key in NASA’s approach to maintaining a crew and cargo aboard the space station and to keeping our commitments to international partners. It also allows our private industry partners to focus on crew safety rather than schedule."
NASA said in a statement

The big picture: Years of delays have pushed back NASA's plans to get Boeing and SpaceX flying astronauts to the space station, forcing the space agency to rely on Russian rockets and capsules.

  • This year was expected to mark the big moment when both companies would start flying humans for the first time.
  • While SpaceX is still publicly on track toward its first human launch in May, it's not yet clear how the pandemic might affect its plans, and it's looking less likely that Boeing will be able to stage its own crewed flight before the year is out.

Go deeper: The coronavirus pandemic is setting back the space industry

Go deeper

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.

47 mins ago - Health

America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The race to figure out just how dangerous the Omicron variant is will likely be a global effort, but some experts are skeptical that the U.S. will play a dominant role.

Why it matters: The CDC has repeatedly come under fire for inadequate data collection throughout the pandemic — and figuring out how to respond to Omicron requires a lot of data that doesn't currently exist.

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.