Engine flaw delays Boeing test of crew capsule to 2019

August 2, 2018
A support structure for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, the first flight of which has been postponed to 2019, is seen being installed in Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2016

An engine flaw discovered during a launchpad test of Boeing's Starliner spaceship, designed to carry humans to the International Space Station, has delayed its first crew test flight until next year.

The problem involved failures with several abort engines that did not close as planned and allowed propellant to leak, company officials said in a conference call on Wednesday.

"We are confident we identified the root cause and are implementing corrective actions now," said vice president and program manager of Boeing's commercial crew program John Mulholland, indicating that "minor design changes" are under way.

The setback means the first crewed will be pushed back to the middle of 2019, he said.

Initially, the first test flights with people on board were scheduled to take place late in 2018.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are building spaceships to transport astronauts and restore US access to the space station, a capacity lost when the shuttle program was retired in 2011, as planned after 30 years of operation.

It is unclear when these first flights will happen.

A report issued last month by a US government auditor said Boeing and SpaceX are unlikely to be able to send astronauts to the ISS next year, resulting in a possible gap in the US presence on the spacecraft.

The United States has bought seats for NASA astronauts on board Russia's Soyuz spacecraft—at a price of more than $80 million each—through November 2019.

Neither SpaceX nor Boeing is expected to be ready to carry out flights with people on board by that date because of various delays in certifying their programs, the independent Government Accountability Office said in its July report.

SpaceX and Boeing have not released updated timelines for the first flights of their respective Crew Dragon and Starliner capsules.

Explore further: Boeing, SpaceX unlikely to make manned flights to ISS in 2019

Related Stories

NASA calls on SpaceX to send astronauts to ISS

November 20, 2015

SpaceX received orders Friday from the US space agency to send astronauts to the International Space Station in the coming years, helping restore US access to space, NASA said.

Can Boeing launch a crewed starliner by February 2018?

June 24, 2016

Boeing thinks it can have its Starliner spacecraft ready to fly crewed missions by February, 2018. This is 4 months later than the previous date of October 2017. It isn't yet clear what this will mean in Boeing's race against ...

Recommended for you

Ice confirmed at the Moon's poles

August 21, 2018

In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon's surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. ...

Infant exoplanet weighed by Hipparcos and Gaia

August 21, 2018

The mass of a very young exoplanet has been revealed for the first time using data from ESA's star mapping spacecraft Gaia and its predecessor, the quarter-century retired Hipparcos satellite.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

torbjorn_b_g_larsson
not rated yet Aug 03, 2018
Well,we got some official updates on NASA and other sites yesterday. SpaceX has likely jumped ahead, with the August mission delayed to November (ISS schedule, perhaps), while Boeing is end 2018/early 2019 (according to themselves).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.