Boeing Starliner launch delayed until at least Friday, May 17

Boeing Starliner launch delayed until at least Friday, May 17
Boeing Starliner launch delayed until at least Friday, May 17

The delay of Boeing’s space flight with humans on board until at least Friday is announced by NASA. (POT)

The scheduled launch date for the long-awaited first crew test flight of Boeing’s new Starliner space capsule was pushed back by another week, until no earlier than Friday. may 17thin order to replace a faulty pressure valve on its rocket booster, NASA said Tuesday.

Tory BrunoCEO of United Launch Alliancethe joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that operates the rocket that was going to put the capsule into orbit Starliner, said the malfunctioning valve regulates pressure inside a liquid oxygen tank in the rocket’s second stage. It helps maintain the flow of propellants to the stage’s two engines, as well as maintain the structural integrity of the tank.

The valve “buzzed“, said Bruno, opening and closing at high speed. “The engineers were trying to determine how much energy the valve had expended doing so.”

On Monday, the astronauts of the POT Sunita Williams and Barry “Butch” Wilmore They had already sat in the rocket capsule V of the ULA and they were waiting to take off two hours before 10:34 p.m., when those responsible for the POT, Boeing and the ULA They did not like the behavior of the valve and decided to suspend the launch.

As a precaution, the launch was suspended even though the astronauts were already on board. (AP/John Raoux)

On the eve of the mission, the POT stated that the astronaut safety It is the highest priority and that the authorities would not hesitate to order a delay if they observed any problem that could jeopardize the mission. “We are going step by step, we will take off when we are Prepared and we will fly when it is safe to do so”he declared Steve Stichdirector of the commercial crew program of the POTin an information meeting.

Starliner has traveled a path full of problems to finally begin to make human beings fly, setbacks that have cost Boeing $1.4 billion and have delayed the program for years. But this time, the problem was not the capsule, but the rocket Atlas Vwhich was a reliable workhorse dating back to the program mercury. Breakdowns, however, are common in spaceflight, and the valves, which are used to regulate the flow of propellants, are often especially delicate.

“We have spare valves,” he says. Bruno. “We know how to do it. We have done it before, but it would take us several days. So we would coordinate… with our partners in the POT and Boeing and then we would have a date for you very soon, but I can’t tell you right now because we are still working on it.”

The test mission will seek to certify Starliner for regular crewed flights to the space station. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

The planned flight is a test mission -the first launch with humans tied to the Starliner– to see how the ship works in space with a crew on board. If the capsule is able to successfully complete the flight and the series of tasks associated with it, the POT would certify it for regular missions that take a full crew of four astronauts to the space station, inhabited continuously for more than 20 years.

Once the crew got off the rocket, engineers sent a command to the valve to close, and it did, solving the problem, he explained. If the rocket was launching a satellite, and not humans, they would have launched, he said. Brunobut they stopped excess caution.

The POT and Boeing are eager to launch and certify the Starliner for scheduled flights, which would give the POT a second American spacecraft capable of carrying its astronauts into orbit. SpaceX has the other contract POT and has been flying astronauts to the station since 2020.

(c) 2024, The Washington Post

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