(Washington) Boeing is now targeting the “first half of 2022” to re-test the test flight of its Starliner space capsule, after replacing three of the faulty valves that led to that test being canceled in August, the company said. Tuesday.
The craft, which will be used by NASA to transport its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), has suffered a series of setbacks that have significantly delayed the program.
This critical test, with no passengers on board, is now planned for “the first half of 2022,” John Vollmer, Boeing’s commercial aviation program manager, told a news conference.
Il a ajouté que le vol test suivant, qui comportera lui un équipage, pourrait avoir lieu « peut-être à la fin de l’année » 2022. « Nous aimers que le délai soit de six mois entre les vols », at – says .
On August 3, the launch was canceled just hours before takeoff, because 13 of the 24 valves of the propulsion system remained closed during final checks.
The Boeing teams determined that the malfunction was caused by a problem with moisture, which, by reacting with the oxidant in the system, was nitric acid that helped seal the valves.
All of them have now been unlocked, except for one that was decided not to open for further analysis.
“We are removing three of the valves, which will be replaced with new ones,” said Michelle Parker, chief engineer.
Those disassembled will be sent to NASA’s Marshall Center, where they will be inspected to verify that the cause of the problem is indeed perceived.
The Starliner capsule was to be one of two, along with SpaceX’s called Dragon, to once again allow NASA to direct its astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil. Since the space shuttles were discontinued in 2011, the US agency has been dependent on Russian missiles.
But if SpaceX has already flown at least a dozen astronauts to the International Space Station, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, Boeing will still have to pass its first unmanned test flight, which should prove that the capsule is safe.
It was first tried in 2019, but then came close to disaster, due to a software issue.
The Starliner must have returned to Earth prematurely, and a later investigation showed that the capsule nearly experienced a serious flight anomaly as it re-entered the atmosphere. It took months of work to make the changes.
The test flight was finally due to be replayed in August… with the ordeal we know.
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