Boeing has delayed two critical tests of its CST-100 Starliner crew capsule following an engine failure during another test in June, setting back the timeline for its plans to use the craft to shuttle crew back and forth from the International Space Station or other possible future in-orbit destinations as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. According to the Verge, during a press call with reporters, Boeing said that the its first unmanned flight test of the seven-passenger capsule (using an Atlas V rocket) has been moved from August to later this year or even 2019. A subsequent test with crew on board originally scheduled for November won’t be happening until at least mid-2019. Finally, another test of the Starliner’s potentially life-saving pad abort system—which uses four small engines to push the capsule away from a malfunctioning rocket—will be moved from this summer to early next year, the Verge added. At issue was a malfunction last month of the Starliner’s launch abort systems wherein the engines fired properly, but malfunctioning valves led to a leak of toxic hypergolic propellant, according to Geekwire. The incident didn’t lead to injuries or equipment damage, but Boeing has to resolve the underlying issues before it can move forward with its test schedule. “We have a dedicated team of both ourselves and the contractor working diligently on those corrective actions,” Starliner vice president and program manager John Mulholland told reporters during the call, per the Verge. Geekwire added that Mulholland said the team has already… [Read full story]
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