June 13, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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Boeing’s Starliner still has problems, but will launch on June 1

Boeing’s Starliner still has problems, but will launch on June 1

Starliner, the Boeing spacecraft that regularly transports astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), will go into space on June 1. The flight has been postponed several times in recent weeks.

Starliner was originally supposed to launch on May 7. The launch was then canceled after a problem was discovered with the oxygen valve on the Atlas V rocket that would carry the spacecraft into space. The flight was subsequently postponed several times due to the discovery of problems with the Starliner itself.

A helium leak and a “design vulnerability” were discovered in the ship’s propulsion system. Meanwhile, engineers at Boeing and NASA analyzed the problems. They concluded that the leak did not pose an “unacceptable risk” to the flight.

Another problem

However, the research also discovered that there is a very small chance (0.77 percent) that the spacecraft will not be able to perform a so-called “orbit burn.” This involves turning on the Starliner’s engines to allow the spaceship to reenter the atmosphere after the mission.

Meanwhile, an emergency solution has been devised and tested, making it possible to perform such a burn, even if the original method does not work. The emergency solution does not solve the original problem. NASA and Boeing chose this alternative, because otherwise it would take months before the Starliner could go into space.

Delayed for years

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The Starliner program has been behind schedule for years. This program began in 2014, and is one of two NASA programs to build a vehicle that can transport people to the International Space Station. Ten years later, Boeing conducted only two unmanned test flights, during which a number of errors occurred. The flight, which could take place on June 1, will be the first manned flight with a Starliner capsule.

Boeing’s performance in this area is much worse than that of its competitor SpaceX, which was also commissioned to build a spacecraft in 2014. SpaceX was given a much lower budget, but was able to bring astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020 using its Crew Dragon capsule. Meanwhile, astronauts are flown several times a year aboard the Crew Dragon.

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