WASHINGTON — The first crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner has slipped from late April to early May because of International Space Station schedule conflicts and not due to any issues with the spacecraft itself.

In a media advisory released by NASA late March 8, the agency said the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission, previously scheduled to launch no earlier than April 22, was now scheduled for early May. The agency said the slip was “due to space station scheduling” but did not elaborate.

At recent briefings, NASA managers said the key factor in the schedule for CFT was other missions to the station. “What we’ve been doing is watching how we progress with the Crew-8 launch and the CRS-30 mission,” said Steve Stich, NASA commercial crew program manager, in a briefing after the March 3 launch of SpaceX’s Crew-8 mission to the ISS.

SpaceX’s CRS-30 cargo mission is scheduled for launch in mid-March and will stay at the station for about a month. After it departs, the Crew-8 spacecraft will move from its current forward docking port on the Harmony module to the zenith port to allow Starliner to use the forward port. Those ports are the only two available on the station for both Starliner and Dragon spacecraft.

“The thing that’s pacing when we go fly is really this complicated traffic management,” Stich said.

At that briefing and earlier ones, Stich said that preparations for Starliner itself were going well. “The spacecraft is in really good shape. There’s not much work left to go,” he said at a Feb. 25 briefing.

He said then that NASA and Boeing had addressed technical issues that delayed CFT from last summer, including performing a final parachute test in January to confirm the performance of redesigned links in those parachute lines to increase their strength as well as the removal of wiring tape inside the spacecraft found to be flammable. They also resolved issues with valves in a thermal control system.

“Those three big issues that we had last summer have been resolved and we’re in the middle of some final certification work on the parachutes and a few other things,” Stich said.

The CFT mission, launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5, will send NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the ISS. They will remain on the station for up to two weeks before returning to Earth. A successful flight would clear the way for NASA certification of the spacecraft for crew rotation missions, starting with Starliner-1 in early 2025.

NASA separately announced March 8 plans for the return of Crew-7, which has been on the ISS since late August 2023. The agency said that the four members of Crew-7 — NASA’s Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA’s Andreas Mogensen, JAXA’s Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos’ Konstantin Borisov — will depart in their Crew Dragon spacecraft at 11:05 a.m. Eastern March 10. The spacecraft would splash down off the Florida coast March 12 at 5:35 a.m. Eastern.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...