Boeing delayed an uncrewed flight of its Starliner capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday over a propulsion concern, pushing again by at the least a day a key check it final tried in 2019.
The spaceship had been due to launch on an United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida early within the afternoon.
But simply over two hours earlier than lift-off, the corporate tweeted it was scrubbing the flight.
An announcement by NASA mentioned the check was canceled not due to inclement climate however “due to unexpected valve position indications in the Starliner propulsion system.”
The subsequent out there launch alternative is at 12:57pm Eastern time (10:27pm IST) on Wednesday, pending decision of the issue.
“We’re disappointed with today’s outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch,” mentioned John Vollmer, vice chairman and program supervisor of Boeing’s industrial crew programme.
“Boeing and NASA teams will take the time they need to ensure the safety and integrity of the spacecraft and the achievement of our mission objectives.”
The check flight was supposed to happen Friday however had to be rescheduled after a brand new Russian science module inadvertently fired its thrusters following docking with the ISS, pushing the orbital outpost off kilter.
After NASA ended the Space Shuttle programme in 2011, it gave each Boeing and SpaceX multi-billion greenback contracts to present its astronauts with taxi providers to the house station and finish US reliance on Russian rockets for the journey.
SpaceX’s programme has moved ahead sooner, having now undertaken three crewed missions.
Boeing’s programme is lagging behind, and desires to full a profitable uncrewed mission earlier than it could possibly carry astronauts.
During an preliminary uncrewed check flight in December 2019, the Starliner capsule skilled software program glitches that prompted issues with the way in which it fired its thrusters.
As a end result, Starliner didn’t have sufficient gasoline to attain the ISS and had to return to Earth prematurely, and a subsequent investigation confirmed it nearly skilled a dire flight anomaly whereas reentering the ambiance.
NASA later referred to as the mission a “high visibility close call,” a uncommon designation reserved for near-catastrophes.
Steve Stich, supervisor of NASA’s industrial crew programme, instructed reporters final week he had confidence this time round.
“We want it to go well, we expect it to go well, and we’ve done all the preparations we can possibly do,” he mentioned.
“Starliner is a great vehicle, but we know how hard it is, and it’s a test flight as well and I fully expect we’ll learn something on this test flight.”
When it flies, the spacecraft will carry greater than 400 kilos (180kgs) of cargo and crew provides to the ISS and can return greater than 550 kilos of cargo, together with air tanks, when it lands within the western US desert on the finish of its mission.
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