Starliner: Boeing restores 7 of 13 propulsion valves, still eyeing August launch

Last week Boeing paused its second Starliner orbital flight test mission to the ISS after discovering propulsion issues with the spacecraft at the launch pad. The company has released a new update today on the latest status of the mission.

Boeing says it is progressing toward restoring propulsion valve functionality on its Starliner spacecraft while still eyeing a launch date sometime this month.

Test teams are now applying mechanical, electrical and thermal techniques to prompt the valves open. Seven of the 13 valves are now operating as designed, with inspection and remediation of the remaining affected valves to be performed in the days ahead.

Boeing is working a systematic plan to open the affected valves, demonstrate repeatable system performance, and verify the root cause of the issue before returning Starliner to the launch pad for its Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

The company is assessing multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the spacecraft is ready.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is one of two vehicles tapped to fly astronauts from the U.S. to the International Space Station. The OFT-2 mission requires Boeing to dock Starliner with the space station before returning back to Earth.

The mission is an uncrewed test flight needed before Boeing can fly astronauts on a demonstration mission using Starliner. Upon completion, Boeing’s Starliner will join SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft in providing transportation for astronauts through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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