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NASA, Boeing Proceed With Starliner Test Flight

Crewed flight test

NASA, Boeing Proceed With Starliner Test Flight

NASA and Boeing are targeting a June 1 launch for the crewed flight test mission with the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

The mission was initially scheduled on May 6 but was scrubbed due to an unrelated valve problem in the Atlas 5 rocket, after which engineers identified a helium leak in a Starliner thruster and a design vulnerability, SpaceNews reported.

According to Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, engineers traced the helium leak to a defective seal in a flange. Meanwhile, Mark Nappi, Boeing’s vice president and commercial crew program manager, said it poses no safety risk for the upcoming flight.

While the leak itself was deemed manageable for the Starliner flight, the investigation prompted a broader review of the propulsion system, revealing a design flaw in its deorbit burn unit.

To address both the leak and the design problem, Boeing and NASA determined the seal could be left as-is while engineers developed a new deorbit reentry mode in the event of a malfunction.

A flight test readiness review is scheduled for May 29, followed by the rollout of the Atlas 5 rocket on May 30. Backup launch dates are scheduled for June 2, 5 and 6.

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Category: Space