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Boeing's Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance rocket on a lunch pad in July 2021 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will be returned to a factory to fix four stuck propulsion system valves that forced the company to scrub an uncrewed test launch of the capsule last week, the company announced Friday.

Why it matters: The Starliner — designed to one day carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station — has been repeatedly troubled by technical malfunctions, and its latest mission has been delayed multiple times.

Before the test flight last week, Boeing discovered that 13 propulsion system valves were not functioning, forcing it to delay the test for a new launch date that has yet to be announced.

  • Boeing engineers restored nine of the 13 malfunctioning valves over the past week and a half, but four remained locked shut, the company said Thursday.

What they're saying: “Mission success in human spaceflight depends on thousands of factors coming together at the right time,” John Vollmer, vice president of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement Friday.

  • “We’ll continue to work the issue from the Starliner factory and have decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions," he added.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Miriam Kramer: Boeing's development of its Starliner has been plagued by problems, and this is yet another setback for the long-time NASA contractor.

The big picture: The company failed to get its Starliner to the station during its first uncrewed test flight — which also had been delayed — in December 2019 after a serious, post-launch malfunction occurred with an automated clock in the vehicle that is designed to keep the spacecraft on track while in space.

  • The company came close to losing the vehicle during that test flight, Kramer reports.

Go deeper: What comes next after the International Space Station ends

Go deeper

Updated Oct 13, 2021 - Science

Blue Origin launches William Shatner, 3 others to space

The crew of NS-18, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries, with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights. Photo Courtesy of Blue Origin.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin successfully flew William Shatner — Captain Kirk himself from "Star Trek" — and three other astronauts to space for its second human mission on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The launch was another step toward proving the company can safely launch people to suborbital space and bring them back to Earth.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Celebrities are America's new politicians

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Launching gubernatorial bids, making presidential endorsements, founding schools: Celebrities are getting increasingly involved in U.S. public and political life.

Why it matters: As we've reported, politics is no longer just the purview of career politicians, as companies and their CEOs throw their weight around to affect policies. Now, movie stars, famous musicians and professional athletes also are using their influence in politics.

Updated 15 mins ago - Sports

Baseball's minor leaguers get a major win

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Starting next season, MLB teams will be required to provide housing for minor league players.

Why it matters: "This is a historic victory," Harry Marino, director of the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, told ESPN. It's also just the beginning of a fight for improved quality of life.