The crewed space launch by Boeing has been postponed for a safety inspection

The crewed space launch by Boeing has been postponed for a safety inspection

According to NASA officials, Boeing’s inaugural crewed space flight was delayed just two hours before launch for a safety inspection. Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams were already situated inside the Starliner spacecraft atop the Atlas rocket, managed by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), when the decision was made to halt the launch due to a potential issue with an oxygen relief valve.

The issue lay with the Atlas rocket’s oxygen relief valve, not Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. Engineers monitoring the countdown observed rapid opening and closing of the valve, prompting the abort.

Currently, the flight team is analyzing data to assess the valve’s condition. If it has surpassed its operational lifespan, replacement will be necessary, a task ULA engineers claim they can complete within a few days.

The launch was scheduled to occur from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with the destination being the International Space Station (ISS). Boeing mentioned on social media that the earliest possible new launch attempt could take place on Friday.

This delay adds to the mission’s already extensive setbacks in spacecraft development. Boeing aims to join SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, as the second private company capable of ferrying crews to and from the ISS.

SpaceX achieved this milestone in 2020 with its Dragon capsule, marking the end of nearly a decade of US reliance on Russian space rockets.

Boeing’s Starliner encountered obstacles during its first uncrewed test flight in 2019, originally planned for 2015. Software glitches led to an internal clock malfunction, causing thrusters to over-fire, depleting fuel and preventing it from reaching the ISS.

Subsequent attempts were delayed, with issues identified in the propulsion system. Although the craft completed its mission during its 2022 launch, concerns arose regarding thruster performance and the cooling system.


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