Space Technology

The launch of the Starliner has been delayed due to a technical issue

Due to an issue with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle, a launch attempt on August 3 was canceled, delaying the uncrewed test flight by several days. The launch was postponed for the day roughly three hours before the intended liftoff time of 1:20 p.m. Eastern. Engineers discovered “unusual valve position signals in the spacecraft’s propulsion system,” according to a statement released a short time later.

The issue was discovered during satellite checkouts the day before after lightning struck near the launch pad situated at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The spaceship, atop its Atlas 5 rocket, started rolling out to the launch pad early the next day. The corporation didn’t go into detail about the problem or why the launch was canceled at that moment in the countdown.

During the countdown, the firm has not reported any further concerns with the spacecraft. However, the weather remained uncertain, with only a 50 percent likelihood of favorable conditions during liftoff. In a statement, Boeing program manager and the vice president of the commercial crew program John Vollmer, stated, “We’re disappointed with today’s conclusion and the necessity to defer our Starliner launch.” “Teams from Boeing and NASA will take the time necessary to assure the spacecraft’s safety and integrity, as well as the attainment of our mission goals.”

NASA and Boeing confirmed late on Aug. 3 that they would not try a deployment on the following available date, Aug. 4. Boeing claimed that engineers have ruled out various possible explanations, including software, and that they will need more time to analyze the issue. On August 4, crews will return the rocket to the vertical integration facility for further study.

Based on orbital mechanics, the next launch chance after August 4 is August 7, but Boeing and NASA did not say when they expected to be ready for the next launch attempt. The launch was originally slated for July 30. Still, it was postponed because the ISS lost attitude control after the Nauka module’s thrusters ignited few hours after that module docked with the station on July 29.

Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2, a repetition of the previous OFT mission deployed in December 2019, will launch Starliner. After reaching orbit, that mission’s software difficulties forced it to abort a docking attempt with the ISS, causing the spaceship to land after only two days.

In early 2020, an independent investigation issued 80 suggestions to address software concerns with the Starliner and communications issues encountered during the flight. In prelaunch evaluations for OFT-2, NASA and Boeing certified that the corporation had completed all of the recommendations.