Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft launch scrubbed due to a faulty oxygen valve

After several delays in the development stage, Boeing’s Starliner space capsule was set to have its first crewed flight on May 6. However, the crew flight test was called off two hours before the launch due to a faulty oxygen valve in the Atlas V rocket that opened and closed rapidly during the countdown. The launch has been postponed to Friday, with Saturday as a backup.

After successful uncrewed flight tests in 2022, Starliner’s first crewed flight test would have carried astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams to the International Space Station and back after a week. Notably, NASA offered contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to fly astronauts to and from the ISS. While SpaceX has already been a part of eight such missions, Boeing’s Starliner is their first attempt at carrying astronauts to the ISS.

According to NASA officials, the delay will buy some time for the teams to analyze data on a pressure regulation valve of the liquid oxygen tank on the Atlas V rocket. However, the launch is still uncertain. If the pressure valve needs to be replaced, the rocket would have to be rolled back to the assembly site. This process can take several days, and if the valve needs to be replaced, it would be very unlikely for the launch to occur within this week.

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