Boeing Space Flight Delayed Over Technology Failure

REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Lisa Moore Contributor
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Boeing’s first astronaut launch has been halted after its Starliner capsule exhibited a valve irregularity shortly before takeoff Monday.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) halted the launch to the International Space Station (ISS) after a pressure regulation valve on the liquid oxygen tank exhibited “oscillating behavior … during prelaunch operations,” according to NASA’s blog post Tuesday.

“Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the flight and pad crew, we scrubbed the Crew Flight Test (CFT) launch attempt today due to an observation on a liquid oxygen self-regulating solenoid relief valve on the Centaur upper stage,” ULA issued in a statement just before midnight Monday.

The two crew members, NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams, “safely exited” Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, while the team conducted tests on the valve, according to NASA’s blog post.

The Starliner launch was initially rescheduled for May 10 in the ULA statement, but is now scheduled to be “no earlier” than Friday, May 17, according to NASA’s blog post.

The replacement work begins Wednesday at the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The Starliner’s success would greatly benefit the company’s standing, as Boeing has conducted two unmanned flights compared to SpaceX, which has carried out nine manned missions after both companies were chosen for commercial space flights in 2014, The Hill reported. Boeing has reportedly received over $4 billion in federal funds for the Starliner, while SpaceX received nearly $2.6 billion. (RELATED: SpaceX And Boeing To Be NASA’s ‘Taxi Service’ To Space Station)

Boeing has planned six manned missions for the Starliner, lasting until the anticipated end of the ISS’ operating lifespan, according to the Hill.

The Starliner while be launched into orbit by the long-lived Atlas V rocket, which will make its 100th launch and first manned space flight since the 1960s Mercury flights, the outlet reported. John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth was reportedly the first of these.