Boeing moves Starliner after glitch delays launch

August 05, 2021
Photo: NASA

Boeing will move its CST-100 Starliner back to the vertical integration facility Thursday after a long-awaited launch of the spacecraft was again delayed.

The planned August 3 crewless launch was scrubbed after a check indicated valves in the spacecraft’s service module were in the wrong position.

The problem was found during a precautionary check after a severe storm swept through the launch site on Monday.

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Boeing said troubleshooting of the unexpected valve indications done while the Starliner and its Atlas V rocket were still on the launchpad had ruled out a number of potential causes, including software.

It said the severe storm appeared to be an unlikely cause but its team would look for water or electrical damage once the spacecraft was in the vertical integration facility as they gathered new data and performed additional troubleshooting.

“The team is steadfast in its commitment to identify (a) root cause and determine next steps,” said Boeing Commercial Crew Program executive John Vollmer.

“Developing solutions in a disciplined manner and letting the data drive our planning is critical and the team is working to ensure our spacecraft flies when ready.”

The aerospace giant did not say when it expected the issue to be resolved or when another launch would be scheduled.

But Vollmer had earlier noted that human spaceflight is “a complex, precise and unforgiving endeavor”.

The launch, intended as a test run for a crewed flight, was initially scheduled for last week but it was delayed after a problem with a Russian module affected the stability of the space station.

Boeing is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to deliver crews to the international space station but has suffered a series of setbacks, including problems during the December 2019 maiden launch that left it unable to dock with the ISS.

SpaceX has launched three crewed missions to the orbital outpost and is expected to launch another later this year.