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Starliner has propellant leak during launch abort test

Capitalism in space: Boeing’s Starliner capsule experienced a propellant leak near the end of a launch abort test in late June.

The company said it conducted a hot-fire test of the launch-abort engines on an integrated service module at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in June. The engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration, but during engine shutdown an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak. “We have been conducting a thorough investigation with assistance from our NASA and industry partners,” the statement said. “We are confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action.”

The capsule being tested is an engineering model, not one that is intended to fly. Boeing also has said that “they believe there is an operational fix to the problem rather than a need to significantly rework the Starliner spacecraft itself.”

This incident however is certain to delay Boeing’s crew launch schedule, especially considering NASA’s own timidity about the privately built space capsules. The agency will insist on a complete review, no matter how long it takes, even if the company has pinpointed the problem already and has instituted corrections.

In a normal world, this event should not effect SpaceX’s schedule. I also expect however that the agency will use this event to slow SpaceX down again, demanding further reviews there as well.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

4 comments

  • Kirk

    VP Pence is scheduled to announce crew assignments and launch dates for the first Commercial Crew flights on 3 August, less than two weeks from now. (This was to be prior to his attending the launch of the Parker Solar probe in the early AM of 4 August, but that launch has slipped to 6 August, so his visit and announcements may follow suit.)

    Hopefully we finally get some realistic launch date estimates. At the SpX/CRS-15 pre-launch press conference, ISS program manager Kirk Shireman made it clear that their August – December 2018 dates (for all four test flights) were merely aspirational target dates for vehicle readiness set by Boeing and SpaceX, that they were highly ambitious, and when the vehicles finally did become available, their launch dates will have to be integrated with the station’s other activities.

  • Kirk

    I just heard (via a commenter on Parabolic Arc) that VP Pence’s announcement is still on for 3 August, but has moved from KSC in FL to JSC in TX, and that the Parker Solar Probe launch is now NET mid August.

  • Kirk

    Parabolic Arc: NASA to Announce Commercial Crew Assignments on Aug. 3

    The announcement will still be at JSC, Houston and will be presided over by Administrator Bridenstine.

  • Kirk

    Some more details from Irene Klotz yesterday: https://twitter.com/Free_Space/status/1024480708792922114

    “Boeing Starliner launch abort motor leak traced to faulty valves. Four of 8 stuck open following 1.5-sec hot-fire of service module test article June 2. While repair underway, Boeing moving ahead w/ unmanned flight test in 5-6 mos, then launch abort & crew flight tests mid-2019”

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