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Boeing's Starliner awaits its launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Boeing is set to launch a redo of an uncrewed test of its Starliner spacecraft — designed to one day carry astronauts — to the International Space Station this week.

Why it matters: This is a high-stakes test for Boeing, which failed to get its Starliner to the station during its first uncrewed test flight in December 2019.

The latest: Boeing was scheduled to launch the space capsule today, but the company postponed the mission due to a valve issue with the Starliner itself.

  • It's possible the launch could be rescheduled for Wednesday, but it's not yet clear whether the issue will be fixed in time.
  • “We’re disappointed with today’s outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch,” John Vollmer, program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement.
  • If Starliner launches Wednesday, the spacecraft is expected to dock with the space station on Thursday, demonstrating to NASA that Boeing is moving forward toward its goal of sending astronauts to orbit.

Background: After the Starliner failed to make it to the space station during its 2019 test, NASA and the company investigated the malfunction, suggesting a number of fixes that Boeing has instituted over the past year.

  • The malfunctions during the first launch were so serious that some of them could have resulted in loss of the capsule.

The intrigue: The Starliner was initially expected to get off the ground last week, but an issue on the space station delayed the launch.

  • Not long after a new Russian module docked to the station on Thursday, the module's thrusters began firing unexpectedly, sending the station into a spin.
  • Ground controllers got the situation under control and the crew reportedly wasn't in danger, but the Boeing launch was delayed in order to give the space agency more time to check out the station's systems after the scare.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 18, 2021 - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

Stock buybacks boom as corporate cash piles grow

The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year. 

Why it matters: Companies hoarded cash and raised prices over the past year — leaving them with a lot of money and decisions about what to do with it.

1 hour ago - Health

Health policies at stake in Democrats' infrastructure bet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democrats are at a pivotal moment in their quest to expand health care coverage, slash the cost of prescription drugs and create a social structure that prioritizes people's health.

Driving the news: Democrats have a clear list of health care priorities they'll be fighting for this week. Among them is a measure to expand Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing benefits.