A Boeing official said Thursday that the company was “standing down” from an attempt to launch the Starliner spacecraft on July 21. The company must solve first two new discovered issues: “soft links” in the lines that run from Starliner to its parachutes and fact that under certain circumstances the tape intended to protect the wiring from nicks is flammable. And it;s not all. Another sticky valve on the propellant load system was discovered and must be replaced.Boeing has flown two uncrewed test flights of Starliner to date after the moment when NASA choosed it as one of the two providers to develop crew transport systems for its astronauts to travel to the space station.
However, Boeing remains convinced the crew flight test will be completed in 2023. Last week, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to bring in independent experts to assess the viability of Starliner. The Commercial Crew program is being funded through a fixed-price contract. Boeing received a $4.2 billion award from NASA in 2014. The company is contracted to fly six missions for NASA after certification of the Starliner vehicle. It presumably would have to give some of that money back if it did not fly astronauts for NASA.