Things are not looking good for Boeing’s Starliner capsule, which aims to ferry astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station (ISS). After the capsule’s second orbital test flight was canceled earlier this summer, NASA has confirmed that the test has now been postponed until 2022.
Starliner’s trouble dates back to December 2019, when its maiden orbital test flight, which was unmanned, failed to reach the ISS. Subsequent tests showed a number of issues, some of which were so severe that they could have caused the catastrophic failure of the craft. Engineers worked on these issues throughout 2020 and were expected to conduct a second orbital flight test on August 4, 2021, without a crew. But this trial was called off when a price problem was detected.
Boeing said it was working on fixing the issue and hoped to go ahead with testing over the summer. But the solution to the problem has proved elusive.
Now, NASA has confirmed that the test will not take place this year. “The potential launch window for OFT-2 continues to be evaluated by NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance and Eastern Range,” NASA wrote in a statement. blog post. “The team is currently working towards pending hardware preparation, rocket manifest and space station availability opportunities in the first half of 2022.”
The delay in this test has forced NASA astronauts to make some adjustments to the upcoming missions. NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada were originally assigned on two Starliner missions: Mann on the first crewed test flight for Starliner, and Cassada on the first operational Starliner-1 mission. Now, both Mann and Cassada will instead fly to the ISS on a SpaceX Crew Dragon craft, as part of the Crew-5 mission, which is scheduled for the fall of 2022.
Continuing with the agency’s plan to gain spaceflight experience for astronauts for the future needs of the mission, NASA decided it was important to allow Boeing time to complete development of the Starliner. wrote.