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Boeing Starliner OFT-2 Launch Update: What’s at stake

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, equipped with the Boeing Starliner spacecraft, can be seen deployed on the launch pad of the OFT-2 mission, which is scheduled to be launched on May 19, 2022.

Joel Kowski | NASA

Boeing Set to make another attempt to reach the International Space Station on the Starliner capsule Thursday, almost two and a half years after the company’s first mission failed.

Boeing is developing a Starliner spacecraft under NASA’s commercial crew program and has earned approximately $ 5 billion in contracts to manufacture capsules.Companies compete under the program Of Elon Musk Completed the development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and is now About the Fourth Operational Manned Space Flight for NASA..

Boeing’s development of the Starliner has faced several obstacles over the last three years.

The first unmanned spacecraft mission in December 2019 is called the Orbital Flight Test (OFT). It ended prematurely after seeing the capsule go into the wrong trajectory due to a software malfunction... Earlier this year, after investigating this issue, NASA said Boeing’s software development was “an area that may not have had as much insight and oversight as it should have.”

Boeing tried to start a second orbital flight test (OFT-2) in August, The company found a problem with the propulsion valve While the spacecraft is still on the ground. After the humidity at the launch site caused corrosion, 13 of the 24 oxidizer valves that controlled the movement of the Starliner in space were stuck and the spacecraft service module was replaced.

Boeing is currently applying sealant to the valve and will retry the OFT-2 launch on Thursday at 6:54 pm EST.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket puts the Starliner in orbit when it begins its 24-hour journey before docking with the ISS. The mission is expected to last a total of several days before the capsule returns to Earth.

The U.S. Space Force’s 45th Meteorological Squadron predicts that launch conditions are likely to be clear due to possible disruptions from thunderstorms scattered around Cape Canaveral, Florida. A backup launch is scheduled for Friday, but it is expected to get worse that day.

Boeing’s important test

The crew access arm of the Launch Complex-41 will swing to the position of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft prior to the launch of the OFT-2 mission scheduled for May 19, 2022.

Joel Kowski | NASA

The aerospace giant was once considered to be evenly matched with SpaceX in the race to launch NASA astronauts. Still, the delay in Starliner development has steadily set Boeing back in both schedule and finances.

Due to the fixed price nature of the NASA contract, Boeing has absorbed the cost of additional capsule work and has spent $ 595 million so far.

NASA took last year Unusual move to relocate astronauts From Starliner to SpaceX Crew dragon.. The space agency also announced last year that it plans to purchase three more crew flights from SpaceX. This could allow the Mask company to complete the original NASA contract for six flights before Starliner carries the first flight.

If Thursday’s OFT-2 launch is successful, Boeing will prepare for a crew flight test to see the first astronaut fly on the Starliner.

Boeing Vice President Mark Nappi said in a pre-launch press conference that the company “may be ready” for the crew’s flight “by the end of the year.”Still, the company is considering whether to redesign Aerojet Rocketdyne-I created a valve with Starliner, but this can cause further delays.

Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial crew manager, said he didn’t consider the redesign of the Starliner valve “a big deal from a certification standpoint.” NASA will work with Boeing to “know what kind of tests need to be done” during the redesign, Stich said, and the “time required” schedule has not yet been defined. ..

“Personally, I want to see the Starliner fly past 2030. I want to see the dragon fly past 2030. NASA has made a huge investment in both of these vehicles. It’s a great platform for doing and going low, “Stich said.

Boeing Starliner OFT-2 Launch Update: What’s at stake

Source link Boeing Starliner OFT-2 Launch Update: What’s at stake

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