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Launch of Boeing's Starliner Commercial Crew Vehicle Could be Delayed by Thruster Issue

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-07-31 04:04:07

ASAP reviews Boeing failure, positive SpaceX success ahead of Commercial Crew announcement []

As NASA prepares to provide updated launch date targets for the uncrewed and crewed Commercial Crew demonstration missions from both SpaceX and Boeing – as well as flight crew assignments for each provider – the agency's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held its quarterly meeting last Thursday, during which they outlined a failure on Boeing's part that could potentially lead to a redesign of a critical element of Starliner. The ASAP also outlined multiple points of positive progress on SpaceX's part.

As was first reported by Eric Berger on Ars Technica [], Boeing suffered a test stand failure of Starliner's critical pad abort thrusters in late-June, a failure that reportedly ended with the leaking of volatile propellant from the thruster system.

In multiple statements to numerous outlets thereafter, Boeing [] stated that they were "confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action." But that wasn't quite the take-away from the ASAP meeting [] that occurred days after the company issued its statement.

"Boeing recently conducted a hot fire test for their low-altitude abort milestone for the CST-100," noted a member of the ASAP panel. "And there was an anomaly on that test that we need to better understand in terms of its potential impact on the design and operation and the schedule. And so although there's a lot of interest in this issue, Boeing has asked for some additional time to step back and understand that a little better."

New launch target dates, as well as the names of the astronauts assigned to fly to the ISS on Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, will be announced on Friday, August 3, at 11 AM EDT [].

Original Submission