Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is still having difficulties making it to the International Space Station, and its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the ISS has been postponed until the beginning of the next year. In conjunction with the Commercial Crew Program, which involves NASA collaborating with private companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station, the test was conducted.
NASA said on Friday that the team behind OFT-2 is “working toward launch opportunities in the first half of 2022,” according to the space agency. Following a postponed debut in August, this is the second time the company has delayed a launch. The first major Starliner flight test, which took place in December 2019, did not proceed as anticipated, with the uncrewed spaceship launching but failing to reach the International Space Station due to a scheduling error. It did, however, make it back to the surface of the planet safely.
This particular problem with OGT-2 is due to a “oxidizer isolation valve malfunction on the Starliner service module propulsion system,” according to a blog post published by NASA the day before.
“This is a complicated problem that involves dangerous goods as well as delicate sections of the spaceship that are difficult to get to by hand. For the investigation to be successful, a systematic approach and sound engineering were used “NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Commercial Crew Program Manager, Steve Stich, shared his thoughts on the subject in a blog post.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in addition to attempting to accomplish the agency’s objective of “safe, dependable, and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit,” is integrated with the agency’s Artemis and Moon to Mars programs. Artemis asks for the ascent of the first woman and next man to the moon as soon as possible, and the establishment of a viable exploration base there in the future. Astronauts will be sent to the Red Planet in the near future, thanks to the knowledge acquired by the Artemis spacecraft.
So far, SpaceX and its Crew Dragon spacecraft have had more success than Boeing in the Commercial Crew Program, which is a testament to the company’s innovation. After experiencing some setbacks of its own, the Elon Musk-founded firm completed its Demo-1 uncrewed test flight in 2019 and has subsequently transported humans to the International Space Station on a number of occasions. A pair of astronauts from Boeing flights have been transferred to a future SpaceX mission, according to a NASA announcement earlier this week. At the end of April, NASA revealed that SpaceX had been chosen to provide the human landing mechanism for the Artemis spacecraft.
There is also a space tourism aspect to SpaceX’s business. In June, the firm announced that it will begin sending space travelers to the International Space Station (ISS) beginning next year, at a projected cost of $55 million per seat. And last month, SpaceX made a significant stride in that direction when it launched the Inspiration4 mission, which sent a crew of private people into orbit above the Earth.
Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 is scheduled to take place at an unknown date in the future.
“NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, and the Eastern Range are continuing to evaluate potential launch windows for OFT-2,” NASA said in a blog post. In the meanwhile, the team is preparing for possibilities in the first half of 2022, pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest, and the availability of the space station.