‘Buzzing’ rocket valve pushes 1st astronaut launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule to May 10

Boeing's Starliner: Launch Mystery Deepens with Rocket Valve Glitch | Insider Market Research

( Source – Business Today)

Boeing’s highly anticipated inaugural crewed flight of the Starliner capsule faces a delay until the latter part of the week due to a technical setback, marking a temporary setback in the aerospace company’s ambitious mission.

Originally slated for a late Monday night launch, the Crew Flight Test (CFT) was intended to embark on a roughly 10-day journey to transport two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and return them safely to Earth. However, mission controllers opted to postpone the launch approximately two hours before the scheduled liftoff upon detecting an anomaly with the “oxygen relief valve” situated on the upper stage of Starliner’s rocket, an Atlas V from United Launch Alliance (ULA). The valve exhibited irregular behavior, characterized by rapid opening and closing during the countdown sequence, prompting the delay, according to ULA officials.

delay would facilitate comprehensive data analysisInitial hopes for a swift resolution were voiced by NASA, ULA, and Boeing, with speculation of a potential launch attempt as early as Tuesday night. Yet, these aspirations were dashed as the teams announced early Tuesday morning that the CFT mission would be postponed until at least Friday night. NASA officials explained in a Tuesday update that the delay would facilitate comprehensive data analysis on the pressure regulation valve located on the liquid oxygen tank of the Atlas V rocket’s Centaur upper stage, assessing the necessity of valve replacement.

The rescheduled launch window for CFT is set for Friday at 9 p.m. EDT, with an additional backup opportunity available on Saturday, according to NASA officials. However, the intricate process of valve replacement, as outlined by ULA CEO Tory Bruno during a post-scrub press briefing on Monday night, entails several days of meticulous preparation. Consequently, if valve replacement becomes imperative, the likelihood of another launch attempt before Sunday appears remote.

The anticipation is heightened

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, designated as the crewmembers for CFT, returned to the crew quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center following the announcement of the launch delay. The anticipation surrounding this mission is heightened given Boeing’s historical delays in Starliner’s development, in stark contrast to SpaceX’s successful operational flights using the Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket since 2020.

In 2014, NASA awarded Boeing and SpaceX lucrative contracts to facilitate crewed transportation to and from the ISS. While SpaceX has accomplished seven operational crewed flights for NASA and is currently engaged in its eighth mission, Boeing continues to grapple with technical hurdles, yet to realize its goal of launching a crewed mission with the Starliner capsule.

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