Boeing pauses critical Starliner OFT-2 mission to ISS over propulsion system issue

After a year and a half of focusing on software issues, Boeing has paused its Starliner Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station today. The launch was scheduled for this afternoon but scrubbed hours before liftoff due to a propulsion system issue with the spacecraft.

Boeing’s mission is to have its uncrewed Starliner spacecraft reach the International Space Station and return safely before it can be rated for human spaceflight. Boeing is one of two providers for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (along with SpaceX) to transport astronauts to and from the space station.

Launch day delay

Boeing cites “unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system” on Starliner as the reason for the flight postponement. If the issue is remedied in time, Boeing and its launch partner ULA will attempt the mission on August 4. The launch window opens at 12:57 p.m. EDT on Wednesday.

“We’re disappointed with today’s outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Human spaceflight is a complex, precise and unforgiving endeavor, and Boeing and NASA teams will take the time they need to ensure the safety and integrity of the spacecraft and the achievement of our mission objectives.”

Starliner’s redemption

Starliner first attempted to reach the International Space Station in an uncrewed flight test in December 2019. A number of issues relating to software prevented the spacecraft from actually reaching its destination before safely returning to Earth.

Boeing has been hard at work on remedying its testing systems to detect software issues before mission time, and the company is funding the OFT-2 mission without tax payer funds. Learn more about Starliner from Boeing.

Space Explored will be reporting live on-site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, so stay tuned for the latest launch updates. Also check out our newest project, ISS Live, at spaceexplored.com/isslive or view below:

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