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Could the Boeing Starliner capsule finally shine?

Could the Boeing Starliner capsule finally shine?

Boeing and NASA say the Starliner capsule, which will eventually carry astronauts to the International Space Station, is finally ready for a test flight. This test is scheduled for May 19, with the hope that there will be no technical errors.

Boeing has been developing its Starliner capsule since 2014 under a commercial contract signed with NASA to fly to the International Space Station. Basically, Boeing had to share contracts with SpaceX and its companies Dragon Crew Capsule. However, while SpaceX has already operated five manned missions since mid-2020, to which many cargo flights have been added, Boeing has only chained Technical glitches.

At the end of 2019, the ship already ran into a software problem once it entered space, putting it into the wrong orbit. As a result, the capsule could not reach the International Space Station as it was supposed to. Another software bug was discovered and corrected just hours before the car returned to Earth, which also caused the service unit thrusters to fire incorrectly. Then the car almost lost again.

these Software problems Corrected, the company then prepared for a second unmanned mission scheduled for July 30, 2021. Once again, the mission was quickly cut short due to A problem with several valves Starliner payment system. The discovery was made a few hours after takeoff.

Starliner capsule covered over launcher. Credits: Trevor Mahleman

Next try May 19

It’s been nine months since these setbacks. Meanwhile, Boeing engineers and technicians are working with those at NASA to solve the problem. It was eventually discovered that the dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer loaded on the spacecraft 46 days before launch had mixed with the surrounding moisture until manufacture of nitric acid. Then this acid stirred corrosion process It is observed inside the aluminum housing of the valves. Since then, valve models have not been changed. However, the passages through which moisture could enter the interior were closed. The ship’s thrusters will also be loaded near the launch.

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The next test flight of the capsule has now been scheduled Next May 19. The spacecraft is capped atop a United Launch Alliance rocket and will then attempt to reach the International Space Station as planned. The success of this test flight may eventually allow Boeing to transport its first crew to the International Space Station early next year.

The NASA Of course, it still has SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to operate this type of flight. However, in the current geopolitical context, the agency will not refuse the option of relocating the second crew.