December 9, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Boeing launches Starliner capsule for astronaut on unmanned test mission

But in a media briefing after the launch, officials revealed that the thrusters were not working exactly as intended.

“We had two because of the payment failure,” said Mark Naby, vice president and director of the Starliner program at Boeing. The first fired, fired for a second, then closed. The flight control system did what it had to do and turned it on on the second thruster.”

This missile then fired only 25 seconds before shutting down, Naby said. The flight control system regained control and kicked the third thruster, which fired as intended.

“The system is designed to be redundant and shaped as intended,” Naby told reporters Thursday evening.

Naby said the issue was not expected to affect the entire mission.

On board this flight are some supplies for the astronauts already aboard the International Space Station, as well as a A model in a spacesuit named RosieRosie the Riveter, after World War II.
The Starliner proved to be a difficult program for Boeing, which initially hoped the spacecraft would be operational in 2017, but It suffers from delays and interruptions in development. The first attempt of this test flight, called OFT-1, was aborted in 2019 due to a problem with the Starliner’s onboard watch. The error caused the thrusters on board the capsule to fail, causing it to derail, and officials decided: Bring the spacecraft home Instead of continuing to work. It took over a year to fix this and a host of other software issues.
Most recently it was a Starliner Trapped with valve problems† When the spacecraft was moved to the launch pad in August 2021, a pre-flight inspection revealed that the main valves were in place and that engineers could not immediately solve the problem.

In the end, the capsule had to be returned from the launch pad. When technicians couldn’t fix it on site, it eventually had to be sent back to the Boeing factory for more thorough troubleshooting.

Valves have since become a constant source of contention for the company. According to a recent report ReutersThe subcontractor that makes the valves, Alabama-based Aerojet Rocketdyne, is at odds with Boeing over the cause of the valve problem.

Boeing and NASA do not agree, according to the report and comments from NASA officials at recent press conferences.

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Mark Naby, Boeing’s vice president and Starliner program manager, noted at a press conference last week that their investigation indicated moisture had entered the valves, causing “corrosion” and “bonding.” This led the company to come up with a short-term solution and create a disinfection system, including a small bag, designed to keep out corrosive moisture. NASA and Boeing say they are satisfied with this solution.

“We are in good shape as we are getting into this system,” Steve Stitch, director of the NASA Commercial Crew Program, said last week.

But this may not be the end. Boeing announced last week that it may eventually have to redesign the valves.

“There are still a few tests that we want to do, and based on these results, we will solidify the kind of changes we will be making in the future,” Naby said. “We will likely know more in the coming months.”

If Boeing embarks on a more extensive redesign of the valves, it is not clear how long that will take or whether it could delay Boeing’s first astronaut mission, which is currently years behind schedule. According to public documents, stopping work with Starliner cost the company about half a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, SpaceX, once considered the underdog competitor in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, has launched five NASA astronaut missions as well as two tourism missions. The inaugural launch of its spacecraft, Crew Dragon, was the first to orbit astronauts from American soil since the space shuttle program was discontinued in 2011.