NASA, Boeing push Starliner launch after unplanned thruster firing shifts space station ‘out of orientation’


In this image provided by NASA, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard sits at Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, July 29, 2021 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. in Florida. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2, scheduled for Friday, July 30, will be Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test and will dock to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WFLA) — NASA and Boeing have decided to postpone a launch that was supposed to happen on Friday after a mishap pushed the International Space Station “out of orientation” Thursday afternoon.

NASA announced Thursday afternoon it was standing down from Friday’s launch attempt of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission.

Thursday’s announcement comes hours after a newly-docked Multipurpose Laboratory Module fired its thrusters unplanned. The module Nauka docked to the International Space Station at 9:29 a.m. Thursday. According to NASA, Russian cosmonauts then conducted leak checks between Nauka and the service module.

Then, at 12:45 p.m., NASA said the flight control team noticed unplanned firing of the MLM thrusters that moved the ISS “out of orientation.” Teams on the ground were able to regain control and stabilize the motion of the space station.

“The crew was never and is not in any danger, and flight controllers in Mission Control Houston are monitoring the status of the space station,” NASA said of the mishap.

NASA said in a news conference later that the earliest available launch opportunity is Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 1:20 p.m. ET.

When it does happen, the launch will see Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sent into space on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The Orbital Flight Test-2 mission will be Boeing’s second uncrewed flight and, according to NASA, is designed to “test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system” for the Commercial Crew Program.

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