Boeing’s Starliner space capsule, whose take-off to the International Space Station had to be canceled last week due to problems detected with the propulsion system, will have to return to the factory for repairs, the company said. company, Friday August 13.
This new setback postpones for at least several months this crucial test flight for Boeing and for NASA. The capsule will have to be removed from the top of the Atlas V rocket, and returned to a factory in Kennedy Center, Florida, for inspection, Boeing said. in a press release.
It is probably “Too early to say” whether this unmanned test flight can take place this year, John Vollmer, vice president and director of Boeing’s commercial flight program, told a press conference. Four valves of the propulsion system “Remain closed” despite the efforts of technicians to resolve the problem, Boeing added in its statement.
SpaceX confirms its lead
This is a major failure for the group, which continues the setbacks with Starliner. The capsule was to be one of two, along with SpaceX’s, to allow NASA to re-route its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil. Since the shutdown of space shuttles in 2011, the space agency was indeed dependent on Russian rockets.
If SpaceX has now sent no less than ten astronauts to the ISS, including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, Boeing is still having to pass its first unmanned test flight, which must prove that the capsule is safe. This test flight was attempted for the first time, in 2019, but then came close to disaster, due to a software problem. Starliner must have returned to Earth prematurely, and an investigation subsequently showed that the capsule nearly experienced a serious flight anomaly on entering the atmosphere.