The launch of NASA's Orbital Flight-Test 2 has been formally postponed until next year. As the agency continues to investigate an oxidizer isolation valve issue on Boeing's Starliner spacecraft.
The agency stated in a blog post that it is still evaluating prospective launch windows for the mission. According to NASA, the crew is presently planning to launch in the first part of 2022, pending hardware readiness.
Steve Stitch, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager, pointed out a "complicated" issue. He said the affected components of the spacecraft aren't easily accessible. To successfully analyze the problem, the engineers needed to use a thorough approach and use sound engineering.
Other Boeing Issues
As part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Boeing's Starliner is one of two vehicles planned to transport people to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX's Crew Dragon is the other. As part of the process, NASA asked each business to conduct an uncrewed test flight followed by a crewed test flight. Starliner has only completed one uncrewed mission so yet. However, it was unable to reach the ISS due to software issues.
This summer, Boeing had intended to fly the Starliner without passengers in a second try at an uncrewed trip. Still, the firm discovered problems with several of the spacecraft's engine valves only hours before liftoff, forcing NASA to cancel the launch.
Earlier this week, Science Times reported that two astronauts scheduled to travel on future Starliner missions will instead be assigned to a SpaceX voyage. Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada will go to the International Space Station on SpaceX's fifth crewed mission, which is set to launch in autumn 2022.
Space.com said NASA's Commercial Crew Program awarded Boeing and SpaceX multibillion-dollar contracts in 2014. They are expected to provide human transportation to and from the space station. With its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, SpaceX has now flown two operational trips to the orbiting lab, with a third launch scheduled for Oct. 30. In May 2020, the firm launched Demo-2, a crewed demonstration trip to the station.
However, the Starliner has yet to transport astronauts. It will not do so until it completes an uncrewed test mission to the space station. Starliner's rocket ride, the powerful Atlas V, was built by United Launch Alliance. The United States Space Force's Eastern Range is in charge of launches from the East Coast.
OFT-2 will be Boeing's second attempt at that critical task, as its name indicates. Starliner's first attempt, which launched in December 2019, had several problems, was trapped in the wrong orbit for a rendezvous with the station, and landed after three days of orbiting Earth alone.
RELATED ARTICLE: NASA Gives Boeing Starliner A Go Signal For July 30 Test Launch
Check out more news and information on Space in Science Times.