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Recently we wrote that NASA has sent its two astronauts to the upcoming SpaceX flight due to the Boeing new Starliner spacecraft launch delays. According to The Verge, NASA has officially postponed its Orbital Flight-Test 2 until next year. The reason is technical problems with an oxidizer isolation valve issue on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the agency announced. 

The agency said in a blog post that it’s continuing to assess potential launch windows for the mission: “The team currently is working toward opportunities in the first half of 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest, and space station availability,” according to the post.

Steve Stitch, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, commented that it is a “complex issue” affecting parts of the spacecraft that aren’t easy to access, which has required “a methodical approach and sound engineering to effectively examine.”

There will be two vehicles designed to take passengers to and back from the International Space Station, where Boeing’s Starliner is the first one and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is the other. As a requirement NASA asked each company to launch a test-flight without a crew onboard, followed by a crewed test flight as part of the process. Software problems occurred after Boeing conducted the first uncrewed flight, so the vehicle didn’t even reach the ISS.

Boeing had hoped to fly the Starliner without passengers over the summer in a second attempt at an uncrewed flight, but hours before liftoff the company found the problems with some of the spacecraft’s propulsion valves and NASA scrubbed the launch

Earlier this week, NASA announced it was reassigning two astronauts who were supposed to fly on upcoming Starliner flights to an upcoming SpaceX flight instead. Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada will fly on the fifth crewed SpaceX mission to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for autumn 2022.

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