The Starliner capsule is still in the workshop as Boeing tries to figure out what’s wrong with its malfunctioning valves.
Starliner has no latest launch date established for the Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) journey to International Space Station, following a series of delays, as Boeing team members continue to “work day and night” to repair the valve problems that grounded the spaceship last week and are delaying a liftoff, according to a statement released today by the company (August 12). So far, 9 of the craft’s 13 faulty valves have been repaired.
“Over the past few days, our team has taken the required time to securely access and verify the affected valves, rather than allowing the launch window to determine our pace,” Starliner program manager and vice president John Vollmer said in a statement.
After an early delay that resulted from a failure of Russia’s arriving Nauka module at International Space Station just before Starliner was set to deploy on 30 July, Boeing and NASA decided to postpone the launch until August 3. However, when engineers discovered problems with valves in the Starliner’s propulsion system, the launch date was pushed back another 24 hours before it gets postponed indefinitely. They discovered 13 valves that were not functioning correctly.
On August 9, the corporation released a statement stating that mission teams had successfully restored seven of the 13 malfunctioning valves. In a statement released today, Boeing stated that nine of the 13 valves “are presently open and performing normally after the use of electrical and thermal approaches to prompt and direct them open.” They further stated that “The 4 valves that remain closed are now being treated with comparable approaches. “The source of the valve problem, however, is unknown to the company.
While Boeing’s teams work to “restore capability to a couple of oxidizer valves on CST-100 Starliner’s propulsion system,” the company is also working with NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne to “identify the cause of valve issues detected during prelaunch checks,” according to the statement.
Starliner is Boeing’s hoped-for astronaut taxi; spacecraft was built under a NASA Commercial Space Program contract with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. After the company’s first flight, OFT-1 failed to access the orbiting lab in 2019 December, OFT-2 will become the firm’s second attempt at the uncrewed test flight towards the station.
NASA officials have stated that the Starliner will stay aboard the space station for 5 – 10 days before coming back to the Earth. In addition, Boeing has announced that, following the satisfactory accomplishment of the OFT-2 flight, it will deploy human personnel to the space station onboard the capsule. The corporation had previously stated that its first-ever crewed Starliner mission would be launched by the close of this year.