Boeing Starliner Update: Valves Continue to be a Problem, No Launch Date in Sight

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.

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NASA Announces Astronaut Changes for Upcoming Commercial Crew Missions

NASA crew members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Pictured from left are NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

Mann and Cassada will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-5 mission. Additional crew members will be announced later.

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SpaceX CRS-23 Successfully Completes Mission, Returning Critical Science Back to Earth

Cargo Dragon CRS-23 atop a Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), October 1, 2021 (CASIS PR)  – On September 30, SpaceX completed its 23rd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) when its Dragon spacecraft safely splashed into the water off the coast of Florida. SpaceX CRS-23, contracted by NASA, brought back more than 25 payloads representing science and technology demonstrations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. These investigations aim to leverage the unique space-based environment of the orbiting platform to bring value to our nation and drive a robust market in low Earth orbit.

Below highlights some of the ISS National Lab-sponsored investigations that returned on SpaceX CRS-23.

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Millennium Space Systems Demonstrates Deployable Tape Technology to Deorbit Satellite

Credit: Millennium Space Systems

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space Systems PR) — Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing (NYSE: BA) company, successfully demonstrated the ability of deployable tether technology to significantly reduce the time a satellite remains on orbit after service life completion.

“Thousands of satellites will launch over the next decade, creating serious congestion in low Earth orbit,” said Patrick Kelly, Ph.D., Dragracer program manager at Millennium Space Systems. “What we’ve proven is a way to safely and deliberately deorbit retired satellites.”

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Boeing’s Starliner Returns to Factory, Preparations Underway to Resolve Valve Issue

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft returned Aug. 19, 2021, from the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where teams will work to diagnose and resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 launch attempt of NASA Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams from Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) safely returned the CST-100 Starliner to its production facility in Florida on Aug. 19 for continued work on the spacecraft’s service module propulsion system.

The Starliner Orbital Flight Test-2 spacecraft was removed from its Atlas V rocket inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and returned to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The team now will perform propulsion system checkouts inside the factory’s hazardous processing area and determine the appropriate vehicle configuration for accessing and analyzing the system further. NASA and Boeing will recommend forward work as part of a formal process designed to aid in determining root cause and remediation steps.

In the weeks ahead, engineering teams from NASA and Boeing will work to diagnose and ultimately resolve a valve issue detected during the Aug. 3 countdown for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2, and resulted in the decision to postpone the launch destined for the International Space Station.

NASA, Boeing, and ULA will establish a new launch date once the issue is resolved.

First Piece of Artemis II Flight Hardware Arrives in Florida

Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. (NASA PR) — The Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage for the second flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket arrived in Florida on July 28 for the final phase of production. The stage and its single RL10 engine provide the in-space propulsion needed to send NASA’s Orion spacecraft and its crew on a precise trajectory to the Moon for Artemis II, the first crewed mission of NASA’s Artemis lunar missions. It is the first piece of the rocket for the Artemis II flight to arrive in Florida. Boeing and United Launch Alliance, the contractor team for the stage, shipped the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage from ULA’s facilities in Decatur, Alabama, to its Delta IV Operation Center at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The stage will undergo final processing and checkout before it is transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations.

With Artemis, NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the lunar surface and establish long-term exploration at the Moon in preparation for human missions to Mars. SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, along with the commercial human landing system and the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single mission.

Starliner Returning to Factory to Resolve Valve Issue

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — Today, Boeing informed NASA that the company will destack its CST-100 Starliner from the Atlas V rocket and return the spacecraft to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) for deeper-level troubleshooting of four propulsion system valves that remain closed after last Tuesday’s scrubbed launch.

Starliner has sat atop the Atlas V rocket in ULA’s Vertical Integration Facility since August 4, where Boeing teams have worked to restore functionality to the affected valves.

The relocation of the spacecraft to the C3PF will require Boeing, NASA and United Launch Alliance to agree on a new launch date once the valve issue is resolved.

“Mission success in human spaceflight depends on thousands of factors coming together at the right time,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “We’ll continue to work the issue from the Starliner factory and have decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions.”

Boeing will continue to provide information and updates at www.StarlinerUpdates.com as it becomes available.

NASA, Boeing Make Progress on Starliner Valve Issue

Boeing engineers continue work at the United Launch Alliance Vertical Integration Facility on the Starliner propulsion system valves. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing continued work over the weekend and Monday morning on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft service module propulsion system in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station.

Work progressed to restore functionality to several valves in the Starliner propulsion system that did not open as designed during the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 launch attempt. The valves connect to thrusters that enable abort and in-orbit maneuvering.

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AE Industrial Partners and The Boeing Company Form Strategic Partnership to Expand Early-Stage Investing at HorizonX Ventures

AE Industrial Partners to manage and expand HorizonX venture capital activity for Boeing and other limited partners as AEI HorizonX, investing in businesses that will transform the future of mobility, space and connectivity, industrial tech, and enterprise digital solutions, with a broader emphasis on sustainability.

BOCA RATON, FL, August 5, 2021 (AE Industrial Partners PR) – AE Industrial Partners, LP (“AEI”), a private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense & government services, space, power generation, and specialty industrial markets, announced today a partnership with The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) to manage and invest in HorizonX Ventures, Boeing’s venture capital fund. This partnership augments AEI’s capabilities by focusing on early-stage minority equity investments in transformative technologies and businesses that will define the future of AEI’s target markets through the development of new capabilities and an expansion of sustainable aviation.

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Starliner Work in Vertical Integration Facility to Continue Through Weekend

Platforms and scaffolding are up around the Orbital Flight Test-2 Starliner, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, inside the Vertical Integration Facility. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — This weekend, Boeing engineers will continue testing and evaluating the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft inside the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Space Launch Complex-41.

Yesterday, teams powered up the spacecraft to receive data and send commands to the propulsion system valves that unexpectedly indicated “closed” positions early in the launch countdown on Tuesday. The transmitted commands successfully opened some of the valves, giving the team new data to assess while also beginning physical inspections.

“Cautiously optimistic is a good way to describe how the team is feeling,” said John Vollmer, Starliner vice president and program manager. “They’re coming forward with innovative ideas and prioritizing the safety of the spacecraft and their teammates.”

Boeing aims to perform all activities at the VIF before returning to the launch pad for flight. If necessary, the spacecraft could return to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center for further troubleshooting and inspections and possibly return to the pad for launch this month.

Boeing is assessing multiple launch opportunities for Starliner in August and will work with NASA and United Launch Alliance to confirm those dates when the team is ready to proceed with the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Updates will be provided by NASA and Boeing as information is available.

Please follow @NASA, @Commercial_Crew and @BoeingSpace on Twitter, or visit www.nasa.gov or  www.StarlinerUpdates.com, for more information.

ISS National Lab-Sponsored Investigations Ready for Northrop Grumman CRS-16 Flight to Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., August 6, 2021 (CASIS PR) – A variety of research investigations sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory are launching onboard Northrop Grumman’s 16th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the orbiting outpost. The mission will launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia no earlier than August 10, 2021, and a five-minute window for launch begins at 5:56 p.m. EDT.

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Next Boeing Starliner Launch Could be Weeks to Months Away

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day. (Credits: Boeing/John Grant)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It could take between several weeks and two months for Boeing to work through the valve problems that resulted in the launch scrub of the Starliner spacecraft on Tuesday, a source tells Parabolic Arc. The vehicle will be launched from Florida on an uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station (ISS).

The launch was scrubbed after engineers received what Boeing said “unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system” of the spacecraft. The signals came from more than half of the 24 propulsion valves in Starliner’s service module, according to the source, who insisted upon anonymity due to not being authorized to speak to media.

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NASA, Boeing Standing Down on Aug. 4 Starliner Launch Attempt

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day. (Credits: Boeing/John Grant)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing are standing down from the Wednesday, Aug. 4, launch attempt of the agency’s Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station as mission teams continue to examine the cause of the unexpected valve position indications on the CST-100 Starliner propulsion system.

Early in the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 attempt, mission teams detected indications that not all valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. Mission teams decided to halt the countdown to further analyze the issue.

NASA and Boeing worked through several steps to troubleshoot the incorrect valve indications, including cycling the service module propulsion system valves, within the current configuration of the Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Mission teams have decided to roll the Atlas V and Starliner back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) for further inspection and testing where access to the spacecraft is available. Boeing will power down the Starliner spacecraft this evening. The move to the VIF is expected to take place as early as tomorrow.

Engineering teams have ruled out a number of potential causes, including software, but additional time is needed to complete the assessment.

NASA and Boeing will take whatever time is necessary to ensure Starliner is ready for its important uncrewed flight test to the space station and will look for the next available opportunity after resolution of the issue.

Boeing Starliner Launch Scrubbed Due to Valve Issue

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day. (Credits: Boeing/John Grant)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (Boeing PR) — During pre-launch preparations for the uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, Boeing engineers monitoring the health and status of the vehicle detected unexpected valve position indications in the propulsion system. The issue was initially detected during check outs following yesterday’s electrical storms in the region of Kennedy Space Center.

Consequently, the launch of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will be postponed. The launch was scheduled for 1:20 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Aug. 3. Boeing and NASA teams are assessing the situation. The team will provide updates regarding a launch attempt on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

“We’re disappointed with today’s outcome and the need to reschedule our Starliner launch,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Human spaceflight is a complex, precise and unforgiving endeavor, and Boeing and NASA teams will take the time they need to ensure the safety and integrity of the spacecraft and the achievement of our mission objectives.”

Updates will be provided by NASA and Boeing as information is analyzed and confirmed.

Please follow @NASA, @Commercial_Crew and @BoeingSpace on Twitter, or visit www.nasa.gov or www.StarlinerUpdates.com, for more information.

Editor’s note: NASA said the next available launch opportunity would be 12:57 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 4 if all issues are resolved in time.

NASA Updates Coverage, Invites Public to Virtually Join Starliner Launch

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day. (Credits: Boeing/John Grant)

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station. OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission is targeted to launch at 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3

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