Boeing’s Starliner astronaut taxi might not get off the bottom this yr in spite of everything.
Boeing and NASA had initially aimed to launch Starliner’s Orbital Test Flight 2 (OFT-2), a vital uncrewed trial mission to the International Space Station (ISS), from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 30. But preflight checks revealed 13 stuck valves in Starliner’s service module, nixing that liftoff plan.
Engineers are nonetheless troubleshooting the Starliner valve downside. That reality, mixed with a busy launch schedule over the approaching weeks and months, may properly push OFT-2 into 2022, NASA officers mentioned.
In photographs: Boeing’s Starliner OFT-2 mission in pictures
“I think right now, the timeline and the manifest through the end of the year is pretty tight,” Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), mentioned throughout a name with reporters on Tuesday (Sept. 21). “So, my gut is it would be probably more likely to be next year. But we’re still working through that timeline.”
Boeing and NASA groups are at the moment evaluating whether or not to place a unique service module on Starliner for the OFT-2 mission or to proceed with attempting to repair the present one, she added. A call on that would come within the subsequent few weeks.
Boeing has been growing Starliner with the assistance of funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which chosen the aerospace large and SpaceX to fly company astronauts to and from the orbiting lab. SpaceX has already launched two operational crewed missions to the ISS with its Crew Dragon capsule and is gearing as much as launch another one next month. But Starliner nonetheless must ace an uncrewed journey to the station earlier than it may well carry astronauts.
As its identify suggests, OFT-2 would be the Boeing capsule’s second strive at this necessary take a look at mission. During its first try, in December 2019, Starliner suffered a number of serious software glitches, received stranded in an orbit too low for an ISS meetup and landed again on Earth after orbiting solo for 2 days.
Starliner and OFT-2 have been sidelights in Tuesday’s teleconference, which NASA organized to assist clarify its newly introduced determination to split HEOMD into two new directorates. Lueders will lead a kind of new branches, the Space Operations Mission Directorate. The different, the Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate, might be helmed by Jim Free.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book in regards to the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.