The new unmanned test of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft (Boe OFT-2 mission) will be held on May 19. This is stated in an announcement published by Boeing.
Starliner Problems History
The first unmanned flight of the Starliner was conducted back in December 2019. Then, due to the incorrect operation of the engine system, the spacecraft did not have enough fuel to dock with the ISS, which led to the disruption of the test program. As a result, Boeing had to make a decision to carry out another unmanned launch. After numerous postponements, it was scheduled for August 2021.
However, this time the spacecraft did not even take off. During the pre-launch check, it turned out that the valves responsible for supplying fuel to the orbital engines did not open at the Starliner. This was due to the leakage of dinitrogen tetroxide (used as an oxidizer). It reacted with the moisture inside the spacecraft, forming nitric acid, which damaged the valves.
The damage was so serious that the Boeing management had no other solution but to completely replace the service module of the spacecraft. This seriously slowed down the progress of the project and led to the fact that NASA began to transfer astronauts from Starliner crews to Crew Dragon.
New Starliner Flight
During the mission, the Boe OFT-2 Starliner would have to perform a test program that was disrupted during the first flight. The ship will dock with the ISS, spend five days there, and then return to Earth.
The success of the test will open the way for the first manned launch of the Starliner, scheduled for the end of 2022. Within its framework, the spacecraft will deliver three NASA astronauts to the ISS, who will spend 2 to 4 months on board the station.