Boeing has been dealt another setback in its path towards using Starliner to put humans into space. The next test flight for the Starliner crew capsule has been delayed no earlier than April 2. The delay comes on the heels of avionics in the capsule being replaced due to a power surge during a previous test.
The test will be the second Orbital Flight Test mission intended to verify that the spacecraft is ready to carry astronauts into orbit later this year. Boeing and NASA issued a joint statement last week stating that the mission had been rescheduled from March 25 to no earlier than April 2. That is a delay of eight days, and the statement noted it was due to a power surge during final checkouts in the spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Technicians were able to successfully swap avionics impacted by the power surge. Boeing says it continues to ensure its spacecraft’s safety and address emerging issues in a timely manner. NASA spoke directly about the power surge and its causes, stating that it resulted from a “ground support equipment configuration issue.”
Boeing and NASA have been steadily moving forward, preparing the spacecraft for its last official test flight before it carries astronauts. Last month, the Starliner crew module and service module were mated together. The spacecraft was also placed into a different area of the facility so it can be loaded with propellants.
Boeing is also gearing up for a test of the Starliner flight hardware and software. That will be a comprehensive test simulating a complete Starliner mission from launch to docking with the ISS. The simulation will also include undocking through landing. Orbital Flight Test 2 is a repeat of the original test conducted in December 2019, which experienced a software problem preventing the capsule from docking with the ISS. Since it was unable to dock with the space station, the spacecraft had to return to Earth prematurely.