NASA has delayed the planned launch of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner capsule into the International Space Station. This was after an orbiting outpost was temporarily thrown out of control when jet thrusters accidentally activated on a newly-attached Russian module. NASA stated that NASA had not made the necessary adjustments.
Starliner’s delay in launch was announced on the day it was scheduled to blastoff from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, atop a Boeing Lockheed Martin Corp Atlas V Rocket. NASA announced that Boeing and NASA had agreed to delay the launch date of Starliner to Aug. 3. Aug. 4 was set as an emergency backup.
“We wanted to ensure we had enough time to assess the situation on the space station before adding another vehicle,” Kathy Lueders (associate NASA administrator) said during a conference call. NASA stated that the Atlas V rocket and Starliner capsule would be kept at the launch pad.
An uncrewed Starliner test launch into orbit in 2019 was almost fatally flawed. The spacecraft failed to dock with the station.
After problems with the Russian laboratory module Nauka that had just docked with the orbiting station, the countdown for a second test flight was stopped.
Nauka was attached to the space station about an hour after Nauka left. A number of the station’s jet thrusters accidentally started firing, which caused the whole station to fly out of orbit. According to Joel Montalbano (manager of NASA’s space station programme),
Montalbano said that the “loss of attitudinal controls” of the space station with seven crew members was only for 45 minutes. Then, flight teams on ground were able restore the station’s orientation using control thrusters.
At the height of the incident the station was moving out of alignment at a rate of approximately a half of a degree per minute, he stated.
Montalbano stated that communication with the crew, which included two Russian cosmonauts and three NASA astronauts, was lost twice. However, there was no immediate danger to the crew.
NASA officials have yet to determine what caused the Nauka module’s thrusters to fail, which was delivered by Roscosmos Russian space agency.