New details have emerged about a technical issue that prevented NASA and Boeing from conducting a test launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft during the first week of August. The problem appears more serious than previously thought, calling into question plans to launch the spacecraft by the end of the month.
Like a car in the repair shop, Boeing’s Starliner is back in the fold as engineering teams struggle to fix a problem with the spacecraft’s propulsion system.
Specialists are working to “restore functionality” of 13 valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system, NASA explained in release. These valves, in the words of NASA, “connect to thrusters allowing abort and orbital maneuvers” and did not open during the August 3 countdown, causing the launch to stop. The Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station has been postponed indefinitely.
Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee and editor for NASA Watch, announced his views yesterday at a Publishing Painfully short:
How and why did this spacecraft, which is supposed to carry humans into space in the near future, reach the launch pad without fully functioning throttle valves in the first place? I wonder that.
Good question. Starliner story is getting sadder and sadder. The first test flight of the unmanned Starliner in late 2019 ended in disappointment, like a spacecraft Not possible Go to the International Space Station. The failed test led to a series of corrections The project has been delayed by a year and a half, which, as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, seeks to provide a platform for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. Aside from the Russian spacecraft, the only other option available to NASA is to launch astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which debuted in May 2020.
After the August 3 launch was called off, the Starliner capsule, still atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, was moved to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) for closer examination. It is located next to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, United States. This hangar gives engineering teams the ability to closely examine the spacecraft. The capsule is currently powered and capable of receiving commands, according to NASA.
Boeing describe it At first the problem was with “unexpected valve position indications”. The company has ruled out software problems, but speculation That a thunderstorm passed through the Space Launch-41 complex the day before, it could have destroyed the fuse. in a releaseBoeing said this is an “unlikely cause,” but the team will “check closely for water or electrical damage” while the spacecraft is in the hangar. In addition to a physical examination of the Starliner, engineering teams took chemical samples from the exterior of the valves and ruled out external corrosion.
Since entering the fold, engineers have ordered seven of the thirteen valves that were previously stuck in the closed position. The remaining six valves are stuck despite many procedures to remove them.
“Test teams apply mechanical, electrical, and thermal techniques to open the valves, and they are moving forward with a systematic plan to open the remainder of the affected valves, demonstrate repeatable system performance, and verify the root cause. Before returning the Starliner to the launch pad for its Orbital Flight Test-2 mission,” NASA announced.
This sounds a bit scary, especially since the root cause of the problem is still a complete mystery. Despite this, Boeing is “evaluating multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and the United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the spacecraft will be ready,” the company said in a statement. release.
To be honest, I don’t count on that. This problem seems serious, it is not something that can be neglected by chance, no matter what. But so far, Boeing won’t say that.
“Being cautiously optimistic is a good way to describe how the team feels,” said John Vollmer, Starliner Vice President and Program Director. release Last. “They bring innovative ideas and prioritize the safety of the spacecraft and its colleagues.”
So this saga continues for Starliner. Fortunately, NASA astronauts can travel to space in Dragon Crew From SpaceX, so accelerated time isn’t necessarily necessary. But this began to discourage him, if not very disturbing.
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