Starliner investigating their problem continuously.

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Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 Prelaunch | Photo by /NASA via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Boeing continues to investigate this pioneering problem, which delayed the launch of its commercial aircraft CST-100 Starliner but may eventually lead to disputes on both the International Space Station and its launch vehicle.

In a statement dated August 6, Boeing continued to investigate why many valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system were suddenly closed during the countdown of the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 mission launch attempt on August 3. About three hours before the planned lift, Boeing scrubbed the launch due to the issue.

At the top of the Atlas 5, the Starliner returns to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) at Cape Canaveral, Space Launch Complex 41, to enable engineers to access the spacecraft. By sending a fresh set of instructions, they were able to open some valves.

“There is a nice way to express how the team feels,” said John Vollmer, Boeing Vice President and Head of Commercial Crew Program, in a statement.

It is not apparent what caused the valves to fail, but Boeing has said in a previous statement that they had eliminated software issues. One risk is damage such as water infiltration in a severe rainstorm soon after the rocket is pushed out in the August 2 pad.

None of NASA or Boeing established a new mission launch date for the OFT-2. In his statement, Boeing said it is “assessing Starliner several launch possibilities in August” and would cooperate with NASA and the United Launch Alliance to identify the optimal date for the launch.

NASA, in its own statements on August 6, said that Boeing “continue to assess timetables depending on the extent to which they will be tackled before they decide when the OFT-2 mission will be launched next.”

A combination of circumstances may result in a longer delay if the OFT-2 mission does not start by the end of August. A Falcon 9 is planned to start the CRS-23 cargo mission to the ISS on August 28. It will utilize the same port as Starline’s will for OFT-2, which means NASA will have to postpone CRS-23 or wait until the mission ends if OFT-2 doesn’t finish its task by late August.

At this stage, however, ULA will need to concentrate on the preparations for its upcoming Lucy Asteroid Mission, NASA’s Atlas 5 launch. This mission has a launch window of three weeks which opens in mid-October. The Atlas 5 for OFT-2 had to be “de-stacked,” and the Atlas 5 for Lucy had to be mounted in the VIF and tested. Further vehicle testing will undoubtedly encounter difficulties long before opening the launch window, given the limited Lucy window.

A further difficulty is that during the high tropical weather season, tropical storms and hurricanes may delay launches or start preparedness by days.

If OFT-2 does not start until its Atlas 5 is de-stacked for the Lucy mission, the next chance will be November after the SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-3 launches at the end of October and the Crew-2 mission is back home to release a Starling port.

Related: Engineers discovered an unanticipated problem with the propulsion system of Starliner.

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