The Boeing Starliner’s journey to the International Space Station encountered another obstacle. The aircraft was scheduled to be deployed on a second test flight to the ISS today, July 30, after the first attempt awry as early as the end of 2019. But the take-off will have to wait a little longer. NASA and Boeing decided so push away launch on a tentative date Tuesday, August 3rd.
The delay comes after the thrusters on the new Russian module ISKA Nauka were accidentally activated, which caused the station to move out of orientation. Although ground teams have managed to regain control and movement of the ISS, NASA continues to exercise caution.
“The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checks on the newly arrived multi-purpose laboratory module Roscosmos Science and to ensure that the station will be ready for the arrival of Starliner,” the agency said in a statement.
Completion of the second test flight is a critical part of the Starliner development phase, followed by the first of six rotating crews. NASA added that preparations for the launch will continue until the final decision of the ISS teams and the Commercial Crew Program.
Meanwhile, staff are assessing whether the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket – on which the Starliner is mounted – will be moved from the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral space station back to the Vehicle Integration Facility. Although both are ready for the mission, this move is considered a mitigation measure to protect themselves from the weather.
The delay is the latest in a series of setbacks that have so far prevented Starliner from reaching the ISS. In December 2019, the Boeing spacecraft had problems with automation during the first test flight, which is why it missed the planned orbit. While the second test flight has been delayed since the end of last year due to during software checks.
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