The test flight of Starliner has been delayed again. NASA has said that the spacecraft will not lift off till mid-next year. It is a cargo spacecraft. American aerospace giant Boeing is the architect of the spacecraft. It is developing the spacecraft for NASA. The Starliner capsule will embark on an orbital flight test probably in the middle of 2022. The delay is because of faulty valves. Engineers are probing the valves to fix the faults. NASA and Boeing aimed to launch Starliner’s Orbital Test Flight 2 in July this year. But it was pushed to August. The uncrewed mission was touted to be a crucial mission for both NASA and Boeing to the International Space Station.
NASA said that engineers during preflight checks spotted 13 stuck valves in the service module of Starliner. This forced the company to defer the test plan. The test flight is a part of Boeing’s contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing will fly operational missions to ISS for NASA. Notably, the contract has suffered a series of setbacks since its signing in 2014. This prevented Starliner’s test flight to ISS. According to NASA, a test flight is necessary before putting astronauts on board. The test flights help in finding out possible difficulties that astronauts may face during missions.
Boeing had in 2019 launched the first uncrewed orbital flight. However, the mission did not go as planned. Boeing then made a fresh attempt. But the second test flight could not be launched because of software checks and other issues. The company said that engineers had no indication about any problem in the valves of the spacecraft. Boeing said that engineers are yet to determine the exact reason behind the valves that made it stuck. The company said that Starliner’s components worked perfectly during previous tests in 2019. Engineers are now mulling to bring a new service module. However, the company recently said that it will retain the existing service module and assured that issues will be fixed.