At the beginning of last year, the Starliner spacecraft was the favorite in the race in which a private company will be the first to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Most experts and recognized representatives of the space industry were sure that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon had no chance.
But it’s been more than a year since its first flight, and the Starliner still isn’t able to reach space on its second test flight. space says. Is this project really damned?
October 10, 2021 update:
Even months after the Starliner spacecraft problems were announced, the errors had not been corrected, and NASA still did not have an exact date for the flight, which had been postponed several times. The last time Starliner flew aboard the International Space Station was in early August and before that spring. They had to separate the spacecraft itself from the rocket and move it back to the center, where a team of engineers and technicians continued to work on eliminating problems.
However, the situation is worse than expected, and even after months of the latest delay, it is not certain exactly when the Starliner could take off on its second test flight. NASA issued to solve problems is not very clear Update on your blog, which describes the ongoing investigation and correction of problems to be associated with the service unit’s oxidation isolation valve.
Boeing has so far demonstrated the functionality of the other valves in tests, but there were still problems with one of them. To investigate the problem, the company also used audio engineering to effectively identify and analyze the error. The valve itself was not moved and removed for forensic analysis. Most other bugs related to avionics, flight software, and electrical wiring have already been fixed by engineers.
In the coming weeks, Boeing plans to conduct another series of tests. Then NASA only briefly stated that the spacecraft’s next test flight could come in the first half of next year, but that would depend on the situation and progress in fixing the complex problem that “parked” the Starliner for months to come.
Update date August 14, 2021:
The problems of the Starliner spacecraft proved to be more serious and complex than they first appeared, writes edge. So his second test flight was postponed indefinitely, and by that time, the rival Crew Dragon might have managed his sharp third mission.
The Atlas V rocket, ready to launch the Boeing spacecraft into space, will wait some time for flight. The Starliner according to space Unplug the rocket again and take it to the Boeing factory, where engineers and technicians will try to accurately identify and fix errors.
According to Boeing, the software cannot blame valve problems and the fault is more complex. The company is working on a solution with NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne who supplied the valves.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos also noticed problems and Boeing offered help. Of course, this whole statement sounds like a rather strong irony, and they’re stinging in American society, reach futurism. Unfortunately, no wonder. A year ago, Starliner was the favorite to beat SpaceX.
It was supposed to fly yesterday – what happened?
The astronaut’s capsule, known as the Starliner, had several dates in July for its flight to the International Space Station. In the end, none of them paid, and it was not Boeing itself, which developed the capsule and got a contract from NASA, to blame for some of the problems.
ULA / Flickr
At the end of July, the new module of the International Space Station, to which Russia joined, proved to be problematic. He turned the International Space Station a turn and a half and really stressed the technicians responsible for operating it.
Yesterday, August 3, it seemed that after more than a year, the Starliner would return to space and show off its capabilities. However, ULA’s Atlas rocket will have to wait a few more days, because Starliner has managed only one thing so far – it has many more problematic surprises in reserve than we expected.
Ship propulsion problem
Tori Bruno, director of the United Launch Alliance, which was scheduled to take the Starliner into space, announced that a second flight attempt was scheduled for the next day, August 4. But as it turned out, the problems are more serious and the capsule needs more time. So where is the problem?
The reason for canceling yesterday’s flight is According to NASA One of the thrust valves of the Starliner spacecraft that was in the wrong position. Most likely this is a software bug.
the first However, an attempt was made on a test mission on December 20, 2019 And it is somewhat surprising that even after such a long time, the machine is facing more and more problems. Meanwhile, Crew Dragon launched 10 astronauts into space and He already has many business missions planned.
It does not work and is much more expensive
So the Boeing spacecraft not only works, it works According to the report, which has been published by NASA in the past, is about 60% more expensive than the Crew Dragon. While the government agency pays about $55 million for a seat in the Dragon spacecraft, a seat in a Starliner capsule costs as much as $90 million.
The photo shows the launch pad of the Falcon 9 missile and the Crew Dragon module, to which the crew access arm is attached. Source: NASA HQ Photo / Flickr
However, this price is charged not only by Boeing, but also by ULA, which operates the Atlas V rocket. Unlike the Falcon 9, implemented by the Crew Dragon, it cannot be landed and reused. The price of the trip is understandably going up (or not going down).
The situation is not saved by the release of a new generation missile, known as Vulcan is developed by ULA. It needs modern BE-4 rocket engines, which Bezos subsidiary Blue Origin is working on. However, as is known, it is not yet equipped with the necessary engines and therefore the Vulcan is unable to make its inaugural flight into space.
ULA / Flickr
According to the available information, the Starliner flight is not yet known and a new date is awaiting confirmation. If the mission is successful, the capsule will be connected to the International Space Station 24 hours after launch and will carry a 260kg payload on board. An astronaut writes every day.
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