NASA and Boeing say they are confident Boeing has resolved an earlier problem with valves in the Starliner capsule’s propulsion system. This means that the previously postponed test flight could continue on May 19.
It’s been a tough eight months, but it’s been very satisfying that we’re addressing the issue with NASA’s Steve Stitch, director of the Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. Oxidizer isolation valves have resolved,” Space.com writes† Says launch can continue. This was scheduled for May 19.
The solution consists of several parts. Among other things, engineers sealed a “potential moisture path” in the valves’ electrical conductors. Also, moisture is held outside the valves with nitrogen gas and the oxidized dinitrogen tetroxide is subsequently charged.
This oxidizer turned out to be the culprit. Thirteen of the 24 valves remained stuck in the closed position. This was due to the agent leaking through the valve and reacting with moisture there, which led to the formation of nitric acid. This, in turn, reacts with the aluminum in the valve caps, which leads to corrosion.
These issues have led to a long delay. The so-called Orbital Flight Test 2 with Boeing’s Starliner capsule was already supposed to be lifted on July 30, 2021, but that became more than once and eventually postponed indefinitely When problems appeared.
The name Orbital Flight Test 2 indicates that there was also a first flight. The launch and flight took place in December 2019. The Starliner capsule failed to reach the International Space Station because of this I got into the wrong orbit around the Earth† The reason for this is that the capsule clocks were not synchronized properly, which caused the engines to burn out for a long time.
Like the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, the Starliner capsule is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This is a program in which both Boeing and SpaceX can transport astronauts to the International Space Station with their own capsules. Boeing wants to do that with Atlas V rockets, and SpaceX is using Falcon 9 rockets for that.
SpaceX outperforms Boeing in this program. Elon Musk has already brought the necessary astronauts to the International Space Station with the Crew Dragon capsule, while Boeing must first demonstrate using Orbital Flight Test 2 that it can successfully conduct a drone flight to the International Space Station.
Update 13:13† Boeing teaches you that the transfer of the Starliner pod to the launch complex has been paused due to a hydraulic leak on the United Launch Alliance transport vehicle. This is a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing and is the company behind the Atlas V rocket that will eventually bring Starliner to the International Space Station. It is still unknown what this means for the May 19 launch. Boeing says a maintenance team is on the way to review the situation.
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