The Starliner Will Fly –– But the Date Is Tentative – Yahoo Finance

  • After discovering a slew of issues with Starliner’s propulsion system valves, Boeing has postponed the upcoming Orbital Flight Test-2 mission until the end of August.

  • Boeing was scheduled to launch its long-awaited second flight test—a week-long mission to the International Space Station (ISS)—of the company’s Starliner vehicle on July 30.

  • The first attempt to send the uncrewed capsule failed in 2019 after a software issue kept it from reaching the proper orbit.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has faced one set back after another.

After engineers discovered a series of issues with more than a dozen valves in the vehicle’s propulsion system during a prelaunch systems check last week, Boeing says the much-delayed flight of its Starliner vehicle may not take place until the end of the month.

🚀 Want more best-in-class launch coverage? Join our crew.

The company said in a statement on August 9 that it has not yet discovered the cause of the problem, which prevented 13 valves in the vehicle’s propulsion system to open when prompted. (A statement before that suggested a series of electrical storms that passed over the launchpad may be to blame.) After a weekend of inspections, tinkering and testing, Boeing says its teams were able to regain control of seven of the faulty valves.

The aerospace company was set to kick off its second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on August 4. Instead, the spacecraft and launch vehicle were rolled back into the hulking, nearby Vertical Integration Facility for inspection.

Boeing and NASA initially scheduled the long-awaited OFT-2 mission for Friday, July 30, but pushed the launch after thrusters on Russia’s new Nauka space station module fired unexpectedly, causing the ISS to tilt erratically.

During its week-long mission (whenever that may be), the capsule will dock with the ISS, delivering more than 400 pounds’ worth of supplies to eager astronauts and provide valuable data about how the vehicle operates before eventually returning back to Earth. A mannequin dubbed “Rosie the Rocketeer” will also gather data about the flight and its potential impact on future passengers. If all goes according to plan, the capsule should touch down in the New Mexico desert a week after it launches.

Photo credit: Bill Ingalls - Getty Images

Photo credit: Bill Ingalls – Getty Images

The stakes are high for this launch—it’s been a long journey for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicle.

Boeing and SpaceX developed their respective Starliner and Crew Dragon vehicles as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which was designed to ferry astronauts to the ISS on a U.S.-built spacecraft. In May 2020, SpaceX reached this goal first, launching a crew of two astronauts to the space station. Since that first demonstration, SpaceX Crew Dragon capsules have delivered 10 astronauts to the ISS.

The first attempt to send Starliner to the space station failed in 2019 after a software problem prevented the capsule from reaching the proper orbit. While the capsule survived the mission, and crews on the ground managed to gather a significant amount of data, the flub set the company’s timeline back significantly.

If successful, a second demonstration will pave the way for the Starliner’s first crewed flight, dubbed “Crew Flight Test.” NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore, Michael Fincke, and Nicole Mann are set to conduct the test flight, a months-long journey to the ISS, later this year or early next.

But the clock is ticking.

Later this month, NASA plans to send a supply mission to the ISS using SpaceX’s CRS-23 Cargo Dragon capsule. Because of the limited number of available docking ports on the ISS, Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance (ULA) will have to work doubly hard to ensure Starliner launches in time to conduct its mission before CRS-23 arrives. What’s more, NASA’s LUCY mission, which is scheduled to launch later this fall also atop an Atlas V rocket, could pose a scheduling problem for ULA if OFT-2 doesn’t get off the ground in August.

If Boeing isn’t able to fix the issues with Starliner soon, the flight could be delayed indefinitely.

🎥 Now Watch This:

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *