Washington (AFP)

The American aerospace group Boeing announced Monday that it would finally empty its capsule for astronauts Starliner after an emergency shortened test mission in December.

"We decided to redo our orbital test flight to demonstrate the quality of our Starliner system," Boeing said in a statement. "Redoing an unmanned flight will allow us to accomplish all of the objectives of the test flight and assess the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the taxpayer."

Serious software and computer code problems prevented Starliner from getting into good orbit, which should have gone to the International Space Station (ISS) but had to return to Earth two days later. If the engineers had not intervened manually, the capsule, which had only one manikin on board but should have transported NASA astronauts on the next flight, would no doubt have suffered a serious accident which would have caused its loss, according to the space agency.

Communication between Earth and the device was also interrupted for precious minutes.

The organization of a new unmanned test flight had not yet been decided by NASA.

In contrast, the other manufacturer paid by NASA to develop an astronaut transport capsule, SpaceX, is preparing for the first flight with astronauts on board. It is scheduled between mid-May and late May. The SpaceX capsule is called Crew Dragon.

It would be the first manned flight launched from the United States since the last flight of a space shuttle in 2011. Since then, American astronauts have traveled to the ISS aboard Russian rockets.

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