Boeing delays astronaut capsule launch do-over

Nearly two years ago, Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule failed to make it to the space station. Now. the company is trying it again.

8/3/2021 7:24:00 PM

Nearly two years ago, Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule failed to make it to the space station. Now. the company is trying it again.

Nearly two years ago, Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule failed to make it to the space station. The attempt at a do-over has hit another delay.

PrintBoeing Co. will face a high-stakes test as early as Wednesday when it launches its Starliner astronaut capsule on a second uncrewed mission to the International Space Station, almost two years after its first attempt went awry.The launch was originally set for 10:20 a.m. Pacific time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, but was scrubbed Tuesday morning after engineers found a valve issue in the capsule’s propulsion system. Boeing and NASA said in a joint statement that they were assessing the situation and would give updates about a possible launch attempt Wednesday.

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The capsule is set to be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno said the Atlas rocket is fine.A successful flight test is necessary for Boeing to prove to NASA that it is ready to launch astronauts to the space station.

Advertisementfailed to reach the space stationafter a faulty timer on the craft triggered the spacecraft to burn too much propellent too early. The craft was forced to return to Earth ahead of schedule.Boeing and NASA launched an investigation into the mishap and found that software problems were at the root of the timer issue, as well as a separate issue that could have caused two parts of the spacecraft to hit each other during a planned separation. headtopics.com

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Last year, Boeing said it would redo the uncrewed flight test on its own dime to prove its system was ready. The company recorded a $410-million charge in its earnings to cover the additional mission.Boeing and SpaceX wereawarded multibillion-dollar NASA contracts in 2014

to develop separate crew capsules that could ferry the agency’s astronauts to the space station and end the U.S.’ reliance on Russia for astronaut transportation.In May 2019, SpaceX successfully launched an uncrewed version of its Crew Dragon capsule to the space station. Six months later, the Hawthorne company launched two NASA astronauts in the capsule on a test flight to the station and brought them back to Earth. SpaceX has since launched two more crewed missions to the station.

“Boeing is about two years behind SpaceX and in that time span, SpaceX has become the establishment player for NASA,” said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at market research firm Teal Group. “Boeing has to use this as a way to remind NASA that they also are potentially a reliable provider.” headtopics.com

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