This week was supposed to be the long-awaited second uncrewed test launch of the Boeing Starliner space capsule called Orbital Flight Test-2. The spacecraft was on the launch pad earlier this week when the launch was canceled after an incident with thrusters firing accidentally on the new Russian laboratory module aboard the ISS. The flight was rescheduled for the next day, but it was again delayed on August 3 with hopes that the mission could launch on August 4.
When August 4 rolled around, NASA and Boeing announced a glitch occurred, causing the launch to be scrubbed again. NASA has confirmed that the launch was scrubbed on August 4 because of unexpected valve position indicators on the CST-100 Starliner propulsion system. Early in the launch countdown on August 3, mission teams detected indications that some of the valves on the spacecraft weren’t in the proper configuration required for launch.
Mission control teams stopped the launch countdown to analyze the issue further. Boeing and NASA conducted several troubleshooting steps to address the incorrect valve indications, including cycling service module propulsion system valves within the current configuration of Starliner and the Atlas V rocket. Unfortunately, those checks were unable to address the issue.
As a result, mission teams decided to remove the Atlas V and Starliner from the launch pad and return them to the Vertical Integration Facility for additional inspection and testing. NASA says that improved access to the spacecraft is available in the Vertical Integration Facility, and moving from the launch pad is expected to happen as early as today. While engineering teams are unsure of the exact cause, they have ruled out several potential causes, including software.
Additional time is needed to complete the assessment, and NASA and manufacturer Boeing will take whatever time is necessary to ensure Starliner is ready for its important test flight. NASA says it will look at the next available opportunity for the spacecraft to head to the ISS after the issue is resolved.