Boeing Starliner Back To Factory For ‘Troubleshooting’


Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule is heading back to the factory for a deeper dive into valve issues that scrubbed a critical shakedown flight earlier this month. The spacecraft was supposed to have launched to the International Space Station Aug. 3. It was a re-do of an uncrewed test flight that ended with an unplanned landing in the New Mexico desert in 2019 thanks to software issues. On Aug. 3, the launch was halted after a systems check “detected unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system,” Boeing said at the time.

The capsule and the Atlas rocket were moved back into the assembly building and the capsule removed so engineers could have a proper look at the balky valves. That wasn’t enough and on Friday NASA spokesman Steve Stich said the capsule has to go back to Boeing’s shop for “deeper-level troubleshooting.” The earliest it will be ready for another attempt is sometime in October.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Quick tip to Boeing — start by looking at the coding done by $10 an hour “IT experts” used by your Asian outsourcer.
    You will probably find they copy and pasted something the found for washing machine valves.

  2. The valve problem is not a software issue but reportedly is definitely environmentally related, the result of corrosion from moisture combined with slight seal seepage of the dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer the valves control. And unfortunately, the moisture was not simply the result of abnormal rain intrusion as first suspected, so is not a quick-fix, think valve redesign or different valve coupled with wholesale replacement. Seems as if without bad luck Boeing would have none at all.

  3. Good Lord, Boeing! Do you not have anyone that understands space vehicle construction? Nitrogen tetroxide has been used in space vehicles since the 1960s and you still can’t figure out the metallurgy and seal technology to handle it? By the time Boeing gets the Starliner working properly, Elon Musk will have made it totally obsolete by putting his Starship in orbit.

    • That was the joke a few months ago. Now, it’s just a matter of time until it comes true. SpaceX would redesign and install a valve in days. Heck, they installed more than two dozen rocket engines overnight.

  4. Boeings biggest concern is, Are our executives getting that third quarter bonus increase for the awesome job performance?