United Launch Al­liance needs more time to trou­bleshoot is­sues

Boe­ing’s test flight of its astro­naut cap­sule Star­liner de­layed to Dec. 19

Orlando Sentinel - - BUSINESS - By Cha­beli Her­rera

United Launch Al­liance is push­ing back the launch that will test Boe­ing’s astro­naut cap­sule on a mission to the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion by a few days as it trou­bleshoots is­sues.

The launch provider, whose At­las V rocket will carry the cap­sule to the ISS, said Tues­day morn­ing that the mission is be­ing moved from Dec. 17 to Dec. 19. It’ll take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta­tion’s launch com­plex 41.

Dur­ing pre-launch pro­cess­ing, ULA found an is­sue with the rocket’s “purge air sup­ply duct.” The ULA and Boe­ing teams will need more time to com­plete an anal­y­sis of the is­sue and re­place the duct.

“We con­tinue to work closely with Boe­ing to en­sure that the Star­liner flies as soon as the space­craft and launch ve­hi­cle are ready,” ULA said in a news re­lease.

Boe­ing is one of two com­pa­nies un­der con­tract with NASA to de­velop astro­naut cap­sules that would al­low the United States to fly crew to the ISS from Amer­i­can soil, some­thing that hasn’t hap­pened since 2011 when the space shut­tle pro­gram ended.

But both Boe­ing and SpaceX, the other con­trac­tor, have faced nu­mer­ous devel­op­ment hur­dles.

SpaceX suc­cess­fully com­pleted a test flight of its astro­naut cap­sule, Crew Dragon, in March. Boe­ing’s mission will be sim­i­lar, and it will also not carry crew.

The test flights are im­por­tant pre­cur­sors that both con­trac­tors need to com­plete suc­cess­fully be­fore as­tro­nauts are al­lowed to fly in the ve­hi­cles.

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