ORBITAL FLIGHT TEST 2 (OFT-2) mission, which suggests the second test attempt of the Starliner spacecraft without a crew to achieve the International Space Station (ISS), is unlikely to take place in the current year, SPACENEWS statement of Katie Liders, which has recently led the Directorate of Space Operations NASA.
According to the leaders, Boeing and NASA specialists have not yet established a specific cause of problems with the valves of several small thrust engines, due to which the ICT-2 mission scheduled for August was postponed.
According to the head of the Directorate of Space Operations, “the team is still engaged in troubleshooting,” as a result, Starliner will most likely fly to the ISS in 2022. “Last month, Boeing representatives stated that the oxidizing agent (diazot tetraoxide) seeps through the Teflon seals on the valves and interacts with the moisture on the” dry “side of the valve, forming nitric acid that corrosive valves and causes them to close,” the publication writes.
The leaders added that experts studied the “dry” side of the valves and are currently considering the possibility of their removal to study the “wet” side. The head of the Directorate of Space Operations noted that the possibility of replacing the Starliner service module, in which the valve problems are observed.
For the first time Starliner tried to fly away without the crew to the ISS in December 2019. This attempt was unsuccessful. Because of the failure in software, Starliner did not reach the ISS, but managed to return to Earth successfully.
This reusable spacecraft is designed to deliver up to seven people to the ISS. At an near-earth orbit, a 13-ton Starliner is capable of 210 days, in an unmanned autonomous flight – about three days. The diameter of the spacecraft is 4.56 meters, the height is 5.03 meters, which exceeds the dimensions of the Apollo command module, which sent the first people to the moon. One capsule Starliner admits up to ten spaces to space. The landing of the spacecraft is carried out on land and assumes the use of a heat shield, a parachute system and airbag. The STARLINER head developer is Boeing.
Currently, people at the ISS are delivering Russian disposable space ships “Union of MS” and American reusable Crew Dragon.