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NASA: Boeing Starliner test flight to the International Space Station may continue on May 19 – Update – IT Pro

NASA and Boeing say they are confident Boeing has resolved the previous 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 is a relief that we are addressing the issue with Oxidation isolation valves they solved it, Writes† Says launch can occur. It was scheduled for May 19.

The solution consists of several parts. Among other things, engineers sealed a “potential moisture path” in the valve’s electrical connectors. In addition, moisture is kept away from the valves with nitrogen gas and oxidized nitrogen tetroxide is then loaded.

This oxidizer turned out to be the culprit. Thirteen of the 24 valves remained stuck in the closed position. In fact, the agent leaked from the valve and reacted with moisture to form nitric acid. This, in turn, reacts with the aluminum in the valve caps, causing corrosion.

These problems caused a long delay. The so-called Orbital Flight Test 2 was supposed to rise with Boeing’s Starliner capsule on July 30, 2021, but it has finally become more than once postponed indefinitely When problems arose.

The name Orbital Flight Test 2 clearly 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 due to It has entered a bad orbit around the Earth† The reason for this is that the capsule clocks were not synchronized properly, which caused the engines to burn for a long time.

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Like the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, the Starliner capsule is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This is a program where both Boeing and SpaceX can transport astronauts to the International Space Station in their own capsule. Boeing wants to do this with Atlas V rockets, and SpaceX is using Falcon 9 rockets for this.

SpaceX has an advantage over 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 prove with Orbital Flight Test 2 that it can carry out a drone flight to the International Space Station.

Update 13:13The Boeing Company informs you The transfer of the Starliner capsule to the launch complex was interrupted due to a hydraulic leak of the transiting United Launch Alliance vehicle. It is a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing and is the company behind the Atlas V rocket with which the Starliner is expected to reach the International Space Station. It remains unclear what that means for the May 19 launch. Boeing says maintenance teams are on their way to investigate the situation.

The Starliner capsule is being transported to the launch complex on Tuesday.
Boeing Starliner
Boeing Starliner capsule on top of an Atlas V rocket before the final Orbital 2 flight test was cancelled