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Boeing's uncrewed Starliner back on Earth after flight. Photo: NASA

A December flight test of Boeing's Starliner may have ended in the loss of the uncrewed spacecraft if major software problems weren't caught during the mission, NASA said Friday.

Why it matters: Boeing is expected to start flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on Starliner this year, but the test flight issues could push back Boeing's first crewed flight.

Details: The uncrewed Starliner was expected to dock with the space station after its launch on Dec. 20, but a software issue involving a timer onboard the craft prevented the two from connecting, forcing Starliner to come back to Earth days early, on Dec. 22.

  • In addition to the timer problem, a NASA and Boeing investigation team found another software issue corrected during the mission could have caused a major malfunction during the test flight had it not been caught.
  • "The team found the two critical software defects were not detected ahead of flight despite multiple safeguards," NASA said in a statement. "Ground intervention prevented loss of vehicle in both cases."

The intrigue: NASA is also going to perform a safety assessment focused on Boeing's Starliner work and management.

  • "The comprehensive safety review will include individual employee interviews with a sampling from a cross section of personnel, including senior managers, mid-level management and supervision, and engineers and technicians at multiple sites," NASA said.

What's to watch: NASA and Boeing are expected to complete their investigation by the end of the month.

  • The agency will also decide whether Boeing will need to re-do an uncrewed test before flying astronauts for the first time.

Go deeper: Boeing's Starliner lands back on Earth after troubled mission

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

1 hour ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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