With NASA and Boeing deciding to change the mission service module, the second test flight of the Starliner unmanned spacecraft will take place in May 2022.
This new approach allows the OFT-2 mission. To be launched in the spring, the test flight of the Starliner CST-100 drone was scheduled for 2022. Boeing will also work with the Launch and Launch Coalition (ULA), whose Atlas 5 rocket launches the Starliner spacecraft, as well as the Eastern Range to explore launch opportunities in May. This date depends on both the spacecraft's readiness and the other spacecraft's schedule for the International Space Station.
"Our goal was to: Let's return to flight safely and as soon as possible. "With this in mind, we have started parallel solutions: we are both taking steps to modify the valves to maintain the option to use the current service module (SM2) and to speed up the process of building the next service module (SM4)." "Based on the current results, we have decided to fly the SM4 on the next mission and continue longer experiments with the SM2 hardware, on the spacecraft and in offline installations," he said in a statement December 13 (December 22). Boeing stopped launching the OFT-2 mission in August when the service module propulsion system hatches did not open. Investigating the cause of this problem is currently focused on the nitrogen oxidizer of tetraxide, which penetrates the Teflon seal of the valves and reacts with moisture on the other side. The leak caused nitric acid, which eventually led to corrosion and sealing of the seal.
However, the exact nature of the problem was not seen in the main OFT mission in December 2019, and so how to fix it It is unclear. However, NASA said that "ongoing research efforts are ongoing to establish the most likely cause of oxidative and moisture reactions." But he did not elaborate on issues such as the moisture source and how to fix the problem.
NASA and Boeing are working on preventive remediation for the new OFT-2 mission service module. The engineers also tested the new module before continuing the service modification process to confirm that it is in good condition.
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Steve Stich, director of NASA's Business Manned Program, said the agency and Boeing had worked together to investigate the problem, including tests at NASA's facility. "Because of working together, we have a better understanding of the factors that led to valve problems and ways to prevent them from happening in the future," he added. "Boeing is diligent in its decisions and follows the steps based on the data to ensure that the Starliner system is ready to complete its test missions in 2022."
While this view shows that NASA and Boeing They will continue to work on the CFT mission before the end of 2022, but even if OFT-2 flies in May 2022, the continuation of the Starliner program will be challenging.
For example, more than a year between two flights The "Crow Dragon" experiment was SpaceX time. The manned demo-1 mission took place in March 2019 and the manned launch in May 2020. It remains to be seen how the Starliner test launch process will proceed. NASA is currently examining possible launch dates for the CFT.
Cover Photo: Boeing Starliner test spacecraft aboard the Atlas 5 rocket
Source: Space News