Boeing’s Starliner capsule will retry to reach the International Space Station in May

If successful, Boeing will be able to fly its first manned mission to the spacecraft by the end of the year.

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The Boeing space capsule , the Starliner , will try again in mid-May to reach the International Space Station ( ISS ), confirmed on Tuesday the agency NASA  and the American aeronautical group, which accumulates setbacks in this competing program of the private firm. SpaceX.

This crucial unmanned test should provide NASA with a second means of transport to take its astronauts to the space station .

Takeoff from the state of Florida (southeastern United States) is scheduled for May 19. In case of impediments that day, for example, due to inclement weather, there is the possibility of launching the next day.

Third time’s the charm

This test flight had already been attempted in 2019, but then came close to disaster due to an equipment software problem. The capsule must have returned to Earth prematurely, unable to reach the ISS .

The test was due to be repeated in August 2021 , but had to be canceled at the last minute due to a problem with the valves remaining closed during the final checks on the launch pad.

Boeing determined that this malfunction was due to a moisture problem that, by interacting with the oxidizer present in the system, had formed nitric acid that contributed to blocking the valves.

“These eight months have been difficult,” Steve Stich, head of NASA’s commercial manned program, acknowledged at a news conference on Tuesday . “We have solved the problem (…) and we are heading for takeoff,” he said, however, with satisfaction.

This test flight should prove that the capsule is safe. Boeing is still targeting late 2022 for a final test, this time with a crew, Mark Nappi, Boeing vice president and space program manager, said Tuesday. (AFP)