Boeing and NASA engineers are focusing on the underlying cause of a technical issue that forced the cancellation of a Starliner test flight. Moisture leaked into the spacecraft’s propulsion system, causing vital valves to stick, according to one explanation. However, how this moisture got in is now an issue that needs to be answered. The spacecraft will be de-orbited from United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and delivered to Boeing plant at Kennedy Space Center, which previously operated as a Space Shuttle processing facility.
For almost a week, the Starliner has been parked inside ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility as engineers from Boeing and NASA worked to “restore functionality” to 13 oxidizer valves that failed to open during the countdown to launch on August 3rd. It was to be the CST-100 Starliner’s second uncrewed test flight, and its first since late 2019.
Lueders was the news conference’s designated optimist, consistently portraying the situation in glass-half-full terms and refrained from criticising NASA’s commercial partner Boeing. By August 10, seven of the blocked valves had been moved, and nine by August 13. All but four of the 13 valves were recovered, but after “doing everything we can on those,” Boeing “ultimately chose to halt and go back to the factory,” according to Vollmer, where engineers will continue troubleshooting. He explained that the goal is to disassemble as little of Starliner as feasible in order to keep changes to the current configuration to a minimum.