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Space: Sunita Williams’ 3rd flight postponed due to a tech glitch

Space: Sunita Williams’ 3rd flight postponed due to a tech glitch

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams’ long-awaited third space flight has been aborted hours before liftoff, the media reported on Tuesday.

The launch of the Boeing Starliner, which was set to fly Williams and NASA co-astronaut Barry Wilmore was postponed due to a technical glitch. No new date has been officially announced for the fresh launch.

It was to be the first crewed test flight of Boeing’s new Starliner space capsule.

The postponement, attributed to an issue with a valve in the rocket’s second stage, was announced during a live NASA webcast.

The Boeing Starliner was set to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Cape Canaveral at 8.04 am Indian Standard Time (IST).
“NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance scrubbed the launch opportunity on Monday, May 6, for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station due to a faulty oxygen relief valve observation on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Centaur second stage,” the space agency said in a statement.

The two-member crew—NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore, 61, and Sunita Williams, 58,– were strapped into their seats aboard the spacecraft about an hour before launch activities were suspended. After the postponement, they were assisted out of the capsule by technicians.
The duo was to liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA.

Williams, who has been waiting in line for a commercial crew flight for nearly a decade, was initially assigned to the program in 2015 because of her extensive experience in spacecraft development. She was later assigned to the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission in 2022.

The next available launch window for the mission is Tuesday night, but no decision was immediately made for a second liftoff attempt.
During the nearly 10-day mission, Wilmore and Williams will thoroughly test the Starliner’s systems and capabilities, paving the way for the spacecraft to begin operational crew flights to the space station.

The successful completion of this CFT Test will bring the Starliner one step closer to regularly delivering personnel to and from the ISS, further solidifying the United States’ independent access to space.


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