Boeing's next Starliner test launch for NASA slips to 2022

The CST-100 Starliner spacecraft of Boeing sits on top of its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, ahead of the Aug. 3, 2021 launch for the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission (OFT-2). Prelaunch tests revealed that 13 valves in the Starliners service module were not working properly, which delayed the flight. NASA and Boeing now plan to liftoff in the first half 2022.
Boeing's Starliner astronaut taxi will not get off the ground in this year's Boeing.

Starliner was originally scheduled to launch on Aug. 3rd on Orbital Flight Test 2(OFT-2), which is a crucial uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station. Prelaunch tests revealed that 13 valves were stuck in Starliner’s service module. This delayed the launch until next year.

NASA officials sent an update on Friday, Oct. 8, stating that potential launch windows for OFT-2 are being evaluated by NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance. "The team is currently working towards opportunities in the first half 2022, pending hardware readiness and availability of the rocket manifest.

Photos: Boeing's Starliner OFT-2 Mission in Pictures

United Launch Alliance builds Starliner’s rocket ride, Starliner’s Atlas V. The Eastern Range of the U.S. Space Force is responsible for overseeing launches from the East Coast. (OFT-2 will take off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

NASA officials stated that Boeing has made significant progress in the valve issue.

NASA officials released Friday's update stating that Boeing had identified the most likely cause of oxidizer/moisture interactions. Although some verification work is still underway, we have enough confidence to start corrective and preventive measures. To further investigate contributing factors and to determine the system remediation required before flight, additional spacecraft and component testing will take place in the next few weeks.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program awarded multibillion-dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to transport astronauts to the station in 2014. SpaceX has launched two operations missions to the orbiting laboratory with its Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon capsule, and is preparing for an additional liftoff on October 30. Demo-2, a crewed test flight to orbiting station Station 2, was also launched by SpaceX in May 2020.

Starliner is yet to transport astronauts and will not until it has completed an uncrewed test flight into the space station.

OFT-2, as its name implies, will be Boeing's second attempt at this crucial mission. Starliner's first attempt at the mission, launched December 2019, was plagued by numerous glitches. It was unable to rendezvous with the station in the correct orbit and was forced to land after three days of solo travel around the Earth.