The second uncrewed take a look at of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is on maintain, as mission groups with Boeing and NASA troubleshoot a difficulty having to do with the spacecraft’s propulsion system.
An article I wrote for Gizmodo again in July 2020 featured the headline, “Investigation of botched Starliner take a look at exposes Boeing’s weak point as a NASA accomplice.” That’s how I felt again then, and this newest information is doing nothing to alter my opinion of the aerospace big.
The Boeing Orbital Flight Take a look at-2 (OFT-2) mission was supposed to get off the bottom on Tuesday, however “surprising valve place indications” on the CST-100 Starliner’s propulsion system prompted a delay, in keeping with a NASA statement. The countdown for launch was already underway when the issue was detected, specifically valves within the fallacious configuration required for launch.
That is now the second delay of the second uncrewed flight take a look at of the capsule, not together with the prolonged delay prompted by the failed first take a look at in December 2019, throughout which period Boeing needed to handle 80 suggestions made by the joint NASA-Boeing Impartial Overview crew. Starliner was imagined to launch on Friday, July 29, however Russia’s misfiring Nauka module pressured a postponement (for the newest on this, try my publish from yesterday).
On Tuesday, mission groups with Boeing and NASA tried to repair the difficulty by “biking the service module propulsion system valves,” as NASA notes. Some potential causes, together with these associated to software program, have been dominated out, however the crew wants extra time to finish their analysis.
Additional inspections and exams are warranted, so the crew plans to move the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, with Starliner positioned atop, to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral Area Power Station in Florida. The crew will energy down Starliner later immediately after which transfer the rocket and spacecraft to VIF. A rescheduled date and time of launch has not been decided.
“NASA and Boeing will take no matter time is important to make sure Starliner is prepared for its vital uncrewed flight take a look at to the house station and can search for the following accessible alternative after decision of the difficulty,” NASA writes.
Now could be the a part of my article once I’m obliged to say that is all a standard a part of growth and testing, that it’s good to be protected, and that issues must be anticipated, and bla bla bla. However as a lot as I’m rooting for this venture, it’s clearly been a shitshow. Boeing must get its act collectively, whether or not it’s designing protected business crew autos for NASA astronauts or making pilots conscious of frighteningly harmful options added to next-gen airplanes.
Starliner will most likely be successful, and it’ll afford NASA a second possibility for delivering its astronauts to the Worldwide Area Station (SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is already up and working). However the house company ought to critically think about its choices when sourcing future companions.