MELBOURNE, Florida (CW44 News At 10 | CNN) – Boeing launched its Starline spacecraft on Thursday night without a test mission to its orbital outpost. After two previous attempts to complete such a mission, Boeing’s goal is to prove that the spacecraft can join the ISS. It must succeed before it can go on missions where people are on the ship.
The spacecraft took to the skies on Thursday evening at 6:54 p.m., landing on top of an Atlas V rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida. After the rocket launched the capsule into orbit, the spacecraft launched its own engines to steer it in the right direction. Boeing officials have confirmed the Starliner “orbital installation”, which indicates that the spacecraft is on the right track, about half an hour after takeoff.
But during a post-launch briefing, officials found that the actuators did not work as intended.
“We had two engine failures,” said Mark Nappin, Boeing’s Starliner Vice President and Program Manager. “The first one who fired, fired for a second, then closed. “The flight control system did what it ought to do. It turned it into a second propellant.”
According to Nappi, the actuator then fired just about 25 seconds before switching off. The flight control system again took over և hitting the third actuator, which fired as intended.
“The system is designed to be redundant, it was designed to be what it was supposed to be,” Nappi told reporters Thursday evening.
The issue is not expected to affect the overall mission, Nappi said.
There are some astronauts on this flight that are already on the ISS, such as a mannequin in a space suit named after Rose in honor of Rosie Riveter during World War II.
Starliner has proven to be a sophisticated project for Boeing, which initially hoped the spacecraft would launch in 2017, but suffers from developmental delays. The first attempt at this test flight, called OFT-1, was interrupted in 2019 due to a problem with a Starliner aircraft watch. The error caused the actuators on the capsule to malfunction, diverting it from its course, և officials decided to return the spacecraft home, rather than continue the mission. It took more than a year to fix that problem մի a number of other software issues.
Most recently, the Starliner was blocked due to valve problems. When the spacecraft rolled to the launch pad in August 2021, pre-flight inspections showed that key valves were stuck in place, and engineers were unable to solve the problem immediately.
Eventually, the capsule had to roll back from the launch pad. When engineers were unable to repair the site, it eventually had to be moved to a Boeing plant for more detailed troubleshooting.
Valves have since become a source of ongoing controversy for the company. According to a recent Reuters report, Alabama-based subcontractor Aerojet Rocketdyne is at loggerheads with Boeing over the root cause of the valve problem.
Boeing և NASA do not agree, the report says ժամանակ during a recent press conference on the comments of NASA officials.
Their investigation showed that moisture seeped into the valves, causing them to “corrode” and “pinch,” Mark Nappin, Boeing’s vice president and Starliner program manager, told a news conference last week. This prompted the company to develop a short-term solution by creating a cleaning system that includes a small bag designed to keep out corrosive moisture. NASA և Boeing say they like this solution.
“We’re in a really good position to fly that system,” said NASA Commercial Staff Program Manager Steve Stitch last week.
But it may not end. Last week, Boeing revealed that it would eventually have to redesign its valves.
“There is a little extra testing that we want to do, and based on those results, we will strengthen what changes we will make in the future,” Nappin said. “We will probably know more in the coming months.”
If Boeing really moves forward with a larger redesign of the valves, it is unclear how long it will take, or whether it could further delay Boeing’s first astronaut mission, which is currently years behind schedule. Ties with Starliner also cost the company about half a billion dollars, according to public documents.
At the same time, SpaceX, once considered a flawless competitor to NASA’s Commercial Crew program, has already flown five astronauts to NASA, as well as two space travel missions. The launch of its first Crew Dragon astronaut became the first astronaut to orbit astronauts from US soil after the Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011.
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