Rocket Issue Scrubs Starliner launch Crewed Test Flight

Starliner Launch

Starliner launch

Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Due to a valve issue with the rocket, controllers had to postpone the launch by at least four days when they decided not to proceed with the initial attempt to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on a crewed test flight on May 6.

A little over two hours before the Crew Flight Test mission was due to launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 10:34 p.m. Eastern time, the launch director for the Atlas 5 rocket ordered the scrub.

An oxygen relief valve on the Centaur upper stage of the rocket was malfunctioning. Dillon Rice, a ULA launch commentator on NASA TV, stated, “We are not going to continue with our launch operations today out of an abundance of caution. The team is just not comfortable with the signatures that they’re seeing, the response out of that valve.”

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A few hours following the scrub, ULA CEO Tory Bruno stated in a press conference that the valve was buzzing at a frequency of roughly 40 hertz, which was audible to the launch pad teams. The buzzing was stopped by forcing the valve to close, although doing so necessitated cleaning the launch to adhere to flight regulations, which forbade altering the Centaur’s status while the crew was on board.

The mission’s backup launch windows are now set for May 7, 10, and 11, although the timing of the subsequent launch attempt will depend on whether the valve needs to be replaced.

According to Bruno, if the vibrations were the valve operating at full capacity, the valve would be getting close to its 200,000-cycle rated life and would require replacement. That would mean having to roll the rocket back to the assembly building in order to replace the valve, which would probably cause the launch to be postponed until next week.

To find out if the valve’s buzzing was less than full motion—a sign that it is not yet nearing its rated life—engineers are examining data. That might have made it possible to try launching as early as May 7.

He stated, “If we find out we have plenty of life” in the valve, we may be ready tomorrow. The choice to attempt a launch on May 7 would have to be made no later than eight hours prior to the planned liftoff time of 10:11 p.m. Eastern.

He stated, “We would probably have that recommendation before then.” “We’re not going if we don’t know by then that we’re confident with the valve.”

In an early May 7 statement, NASA announced that, in order to give teams more time to evaluate valve data, the agency was now predicting a launch no earlier than May 10, ruling out a May 7 launch.

Should there be a prolonged launch delay, scheduling for ISS activities is flexible. From a station standpoint, we’re not in a rush to take off. We did purposefully clear our summer calendar to allow us plenty of runway for this CFT mission,” NASA ISS program manager Dana Weigel stated.

Shortly after NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams boarded Starliner, the scrub was announced. Prior to the launch scrub, they had not reported any problems with the spacecraft. When the scrub was called, preparations were well ahead of schedule, according to officials at the meeting.

Before NASA certifies the Starliner spacecraft for crew rotation missions aboard the International Space Station, CFT is the spaceship’s last test. Following two unmanned trips in December 2019 and May 2022, this mission will be the first to transport astronauts.

It is planned that the spacecraft will dock with the station slightly over a day after launch. It will spend roughly a week in the station before landing at White Sands, New Mexico, via undocking.

Wilmore and Williams stated before to takeoff that they were ready to accept a launch scrub. Upon arriving at the Kennedy Space Center on April 25th for their last-minute arrangements, Williams mentioned that she had sought guidance from Bob Behnken, who piloted Demo-2, the first Crew Dragon spacecraft to transport humans, in 2020 alongside Doug Hurley. That mission was scrubbed due to weather before it was launched successfully.

Regarding the planned CFT launch, Williams remarked, “May 6 isn’t magical.” “It is actually kind of nice to get a scrub because it relieves some of the pressure,” he stated.

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