Boeing’s Starliner astronaut taxi will not get off the bottom this 12 months in any case.
Starliner was initially speculated to launch Aug. 3 on Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), a important uncrewed trial mission to the International Space Station for NASA. But prelaunch exams revealed 13 stuck valves in Starliner’s service module, pushing the liftoff again — all the best way into subsequent 12 months, it now seems.
“Potential launch windows for OFT-2 continue to be assessed by NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and the Eastern Range,” NASA officers wrote in an update on Friday (Oct. 8). “The team currently is working toward opportunities in the first half of 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest and space station availability.”
In images: Boeing’s Starliner OFT-2 mission in pictures
United Launch Alliance builds Starliner’s rocket trip, the highly effective Atlas V. The Eastern Range is the U.S. Space Force entity that oversees launches from the East Coast. (OFT-2 will raise off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.)
Boeing has made appreciable progress on the valve challenge thus far, NASA officers stated.
“Boeing has identified a most probable cause related to oxidizer and moisture interactions, and although some verification work remains underway, our confidence is high enough that we are commencing corrective and preventive actions,” NASA officers wrote in Friday’s replace. “Additional spacecraft and component testing will be conducted in the coming weeks to further explore contributing factors and necessary system remediation before flight.”
In 2014, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program chosen Boeing and SpaceX to supply astronaut transportation to and from the space station, awarding each corporations multibillion-dollar contracts. SpaceX has already launched two operational missions to the orbiting lab with its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule and is gearing up for a third liftoff on Oct. 30. The firm additionally launched a crewed take a look at flight to the station known as Demo-2 in May 2020.
Starliner has but to hold astronauts, nevertheless, and can’t achieve this till it aces an uncrewed take a look at flight to the space station.
As its identify suggests, OFT-2 will likely be Boeing’s second crack at that essential mission. On the primary strive, which launched in December 2019, Starliner suffered multiple glitches, obtained stranded within the flawed orbit for a meetup with the station and landed after circling Earth solo for 3 days.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e book concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.