Boeing reportedly butting heads with supplier over Starliner issues

Sun, 15 May 2022 06:10:32 GMT
Space Daily

Washington DC (Sputnik) May 16, 2022 Boeing's new CST-100 Starliner is set to fly to the ISS on May...

Boeing's new CST-100 Starliner is set to fly to the ISS on May 19 atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Florida, with the company hoping to demonstrate to NASA that the spacecraft is safe to transport astronauts to and from the orbiting outpost.

Boeing and its supplier, Aerojet Rocketdyne, are blaming each other for a major new issue with the Starliner spacecraft's fuel valve, as the problems with the project persist, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Reuters reported, citing its sources, that Boeing and Aerojet are at war over the cause of the fuel valve problem in the Starliner propulsion system that prompted a test flight postponement last July, with the two companies continuing to blame each other.

NASA is hoping that Boeing will ultimately be able to provide alternative options for transporting humans to the ISS. In the meantime, NASA awarded SpaceX three more missions in March to compensate for Boeing's delays.

The source of the jammed valves, according to the report, citing Boeing and NASA engineers, is a chemical reaction involving propellant, aluminum alloys, and moisture ingress from Starliner's humid Florida launch location.

The outlet's sources claimed that Aerojet experts and lawyers blame a cleaning chemical used in ground tests by Boeing.

Aerojet also reportedly failed to meet Boeing's contractual requirements for making the propulsion system durable enough to withstand the issues caused by chemical reactions.

Boeing returned Starliner to the launchpad for the third time last week, having replaced the propulsion system with a temporary patch that stops moisture from seeping into the valve section ahead of the impending launch.

The disagreement comes as Boeing struggles to recover from a series of problems that have hampered its airplane business and depleted its funds.

The upcoming mission is believed to be a critical step toward re-establishing Boeing as a viable competitor to Musk's SpaceX. The Aerojet issue is the latest example of Boeing's troubles with the Starliner program, which has cost the corporation $595 million since 2019.

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