Boeing and the space agency held a joint teleconference Tuesday to provide an update on Starliner and Jim McAleese, founder of McAleese & Associates and a three-time Wash100 winner, reported that NASA is confident that the spacecraft will fly to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
During the briefing, NASA and Boeing officials offered updates on the oxidizer isolation valve issue that was identified in August ahead of the planned Orbital Flight Test-2 unmanned mission to the ISS.
McAleese learned that the root cause of “sticking valves” in CST-100 service module appears to have been moisture reacting with oxidizer that caused nitric-acid corrosion, resulting in the propulsion pump valves to stick.
The NASA-Boeing team did not find any problem with the CST-100 service module’s wiring or flight controller and visible defects in the valves, according to the report.
He noted that Boeing will repair the second Starliner service module that was used originally in the environmental qualification tests and is now “adding heaters and desiccants to absorb any future moisture.”
Starliner will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance-built Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of the OFT-2 mission. The spacecraft will dock to the ISS and depart for Earth about a week later as part of an end-to-end flight test meant to prove that CST-100 can support manned missions to the orbiting laboratory.
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