NASA and Boeing have announced that the next launch of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft has been pushed back to next year while the company works to correct an oxidizer isolation valve issue on the vehicle’s service module propulsion system. The problem was discovered last August when unexpected valve position indications caused the cancellation of an uncrewed launch. New launch windows for Starliner’s next mission, called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), are still being assessed.
“Safety of the Starliner spacecraft, our employees, and our crew members is this team’s number one priority,” said John Vollmer, Boeing vice president and Starliner program manager. “We are taking the appropriate amount of time to work through the process now to set this system up for success on OFT-2 and all future Starliner missions.”
Starliner also experienced software problems during its first orbital flight test in December 2019, resulting in the capsule failing to make its intended orbit and plans to re-fly the mission. Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the spacecraft is currently slated for the uncrewed OFT-2 mission and a crewed flight test along with six crew rotation missions to the International Space Station. As previously reported by AVweb, NASA reassigned astronauts scheduled for Starliner missions earlier this month.