Boeing Co. will remove its Starliner capsule from a rocket to make a deeper examination of propulsion system valves after a launch was scrubbed last week, a step that could push the planned mission until next year.
Four of the 13 valves in the Starliner’s propulsion system remain closed and will undergo a “deeper-level troubleshooting” at Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, the company said in a statement Friday. Boeing, NASA, and rocket maker United Launch Alliance expect to decide on a new launch date after resolving the issue.
Crews had exhausted every option to diagnose the valve problems while the craft was sitting atop the ULA Atlas V rocket. They now need to return the capsule to a Boeing facility for deeper analysis, said John Vollmer, vice president, and program manager for the Starliner program.
Boeing fell 1.4% to $234.79 at 3:10 p.m. in New York. The stock had climbed 11% this year through Thursday while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 16%.
The company is trying to demonstrate that it can fulfill a National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract to carry astronauts to the space station, matching the abilities of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun has a lot riding on the Starliner’s success as he works to rebuild its engineering culture and address quality lapses across its product portfolio. His compensation package includes performance awards tied to specific targets, including a successful crewed Starliner flight and the entire global return to service of the 737 Max aircraft after two fatal crashes.
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