Boeing delays test flight of Starliner crew spacecraft for at least two months after valve problems

Before the OFT-2 mission, the Starliner capsule of Boeing is mounted on an Atlas V rocket at the launchpad.Boeing's Starliner spacecraft's second uncrewed flight test is being delayed by at least two more months because of problems with its propulsion valves. The company announced Friday.Orbital Flight Testing 2, also known as OFT-2, was originally scheduled for December 2020. However, Boeing has delayed the launch several times. The most recent delay was Aug. 3. Boeing discovered 13 propulsion valves that were not open on the spacecraft during launch preparations, which caused the delay.Boeing vice president John Vollmer stated that while engineers at the company restored functionality to nine of the 13 valves in the past week and half, the team had "examined every option" to repair Starliner. However, the capsule was still on the rocket. This necessitated a return to Boeing's processing facility to conduct further investigation.Vollmer stated that Boeing was working with Aerojet Rocketdyne (the manufacturer of the valves) to determine the root cause and suggest preventative or redesign steps.Boeing won't have the opportunity to launch OFT-2 in October, NASA Commercial Crew program manager Steve Stich said to reporters. He also stated that NASA is delayed "definitely on both sides" of an agency mission scheduled for mid-October.This announcement about the OFT-2 delay comes 19 months after Boeing's first flight test was canceled.OFT-2 is a redo of Boeing’s December 2019 uncrewed flight test. After a successful launch, the spacecraft’s flight control system failed, and the capsule didn’t make it to the International Space Station. Although Boeing was able conduct Starliner tests during the shorter flight, NASA declared it a "close call" and stated that the spacecraft could easily have been lost twice.After an investigation with NASA, the company made many changes. Boeing will also cover the cost OFT-2. The company had already set aside $410million shortly after the first flight. Vollmer stated Friday that he wasn't sure how much Boeing will be affected by the additional work and delay.