Boeing’s Starliner astronaut taxi will not get off the bottom this yr in spite of everything.
Starliner was initially alleged to launch Aug. 3 on Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), a crucial uncrewed trial mission to the International Space Station for NASA. But prelaunch assessments revealed 13 caught valves in Starliner’s service module, pushing the liftoff again — all the best way into subsequent yr, 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 replace 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 photos
United Launch Alliance builds Starliner’s rocket journey, 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 concern so 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 house 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 check flight to the station referred to as Demo-2 in May 2020.
Starliner has but to hold astronauts, nevertheless, and can’t achieve this till it aces an uncrewed check flight to the house station.
As its identify suggests, OFT-2 can be Boeing’s second crack at that essential mission. On the primary attempt, which launched in December 2019, Starliner suffered a number of glitches, acquired stranded within the incorrect orbit for a meetup with the station and landed after circling Earth solo for 3 days.
Mike Wall is the writer 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.