NASA crewed flight test launch delayed again

NASA crewed flight test launch delayed again
NASA crewed flight test launch delayed again

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on board is seen May 4, 2024, as it is deployed from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at the Space Launch 41 prior to NASA’s Boeing crew flight test at Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida. NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test is the first launch with astronauts aboard the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASABoeing and ULA evaluate path forward for Boeing’s next crew flight test to the International Space Station, targeting June 1 for launch. This follows detailed assessments of a small helium leak in the Starliner service module, with additional readiness reviews and crew preparations underway.

Mission leaders from NASA, Boeing and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) continue to evaluate the path forward to launch the agency’s Boeing crew flight test to the International Space Station. Teams are now working on a launch opportunity at 12:25 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 1, with additional opportunities on Sunday, June 2, Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6.

The Boeing crew flight test was scheduled for May 6, but that launch was canceled due to a faulty oxygen relief valve. Subsequent issues changed the planned launch date to May 17, May 21, and May 25, ahead of the current goal of June 1 at the earliest.

Starliner performance evaluation

Ongoing work continues to evaluate the Starliner’s performance and redundancy following the discovery of a small helium leak in the spacecraft’s service module. As part of this work, and unrelated to the current leak which remains stable, the teams are carrying out a follow-up assessment of the propulsion system in order to understand the potential impacts of the helium system on certain return scenarios of the Starliner.

NASA will also conduct a flight test readiness review of the Delta-Agency to discuss the work completed since the last CFT launch attempt on May 6, and to assess the resolution of the problem and the rationale for the flight before the next attempt, as part of NASA’s evaluation process. preparation. The date for the next flight test preparation exam is under review and will be announced once selected.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on board is seen on the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41, ahead of NASA’s Boeing crew flight test on Sunday May 5, 2024, at the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Meeting technical challenges

“Extensive exceptional analysis and testing was performed over the past two weeks by the joint NASA, Boeing and ULA teams to replace the Centaur auto-regulating valve and troubleshoot the module’s helium collector leak Starliner service,” said Steve Stich, director. , NASA Commercial Crew Program.

“It was important that we took our time to understand the full complexities of each issue, including the redundant capabilities of the Starliner propulsion system and any implications for our provisional human rating certification. We will launch Butch and Suni on this test mission after the entire community reviews the teams’ progress and flight rationale during the next Delta Agency Flight Test Readiness Review.

Crew preparation

Meanwhile, NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams continue to train in Starliner simulators to prepare for flight. The crew remains in quarantine and will return to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the new launch date approaches.

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