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HomeTechnologyGadgetsLatest development in Boeing's Starliner fiasco: dispute over 'buzzing' valves

Latest development in Boeing’s Starliner fiasco: dispute over ‘buzzing’ valves

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse in Boeing’s attempt to launch astronauts into orbit, a shocking third act reveals the long-running industry feud over rocket valves.

A rival aerospace company has suddenly warned NASA of the “risk of a disaster on the launch pad” and advised the space agency to “immediately halt” Starliner launches.The dramatic warning is release ValveTech lost a court case Wednesday over the design of valves for the Starliner propulsion system, according to reports. Payload.

Okay, here’s the tea.

Earlier this week, NASA and Boeing forced to withdraw A launch attempt for the Starliner spacecraft ended after a team on the ground discovered a faulty valve just hours before liftoff.

Boeing’s crew module is mounted atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, preparing to transport NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the International Space Station (ISS) and back . However, hours before Monday’s scheduled launch, ULA announced that the launch had been canceled “due to observations of a self-regulating solenoid safety valve for liquid oxygen in Centaur’s upper stage.”

This valve regulates the flow and pressure of liquid oxygen in the rocket’s upper stage. It uses a solenoid (a type of electromagnet) to open and close as needed, ensuring the safe release of excess pressure.

ULA CEO Tory Bruno explain Crews working on the launch pad heard a buzzing sound caused by a faulty valve. The company decided to replace the valve entirely rather than try to repair it, and a new release date is currently set for May 17.

“After evaluating the valve history, launch attempt data signatures, and assessing the risks associated with continued use, the ULA team determined that the valve exceeded its qualifications, and the mission manager agreed to remove and replace it,” NASA wrote in a report the valve. statement.

For some this is still not enough. “NASA needs to reintroduce safety inspections and re-examine safety protocols to ensure the safety of Starliner to avoid catastrophic events for astronauts and ground personnel,” ValveTech President Erin Faville said in a statement.

To clarify, the valve is on the rocket carrying the Starliner, not the crewed spacecraft itself. However, ValveTech’s apparent dissatisfaction is that the company supplies valves for Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

According to Payload, in 2017, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of defense company L3Harris, terminated its partnership with ValveTech due to disputes over valve design. Aerojet Rocketdyne hired ValveTech to manufacture valves for the Starliner’s propulsion system (different from the pressure regulating valves on ULA rockets), and ValveTech subsequently sued Aerojet Rocketdyne for allegedly misusing trade secrets regarding its new valve design.

November 2023, Jury established Aerojet Rocketdyne violated two confidentiality agreements with ValveTech that did not require it to retain and use its proprietary information. ValveTech sought further restrictions on Aerojet Rocketdyne, but the motion was denied.

The company now claims that valves supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne for use in the Starliner propulsion system “did not meet correct specifications and were not evaluated to ensure safety protocols,” ValveTech wrote in a statement.

The company added: “ValveTech continues to question how NASA, Boeing and Aerojet qualified the valve for the mission without appropriate supporting data or previous historical or legacy information, which in its experience violates NASA-established regulations.” Aerospace Industry Qualification Agreement.

In response to ValveTech’s statement, ULA’s Bruno wrote on work.

A Boeing spokesperson told Payload that ValveTech’s speculation about Monday’s launch cancellation was “inaccurate and irresponsible.” Starliner has had its faults in the past, but this time, the manned spaceship didn’t deserve to be misled.

Gizmodo reached out to ValveTech for comment; but received no response before publication.

Boeing’s manned flight test Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to transport crew and cargo between the International Space Station $4.3 billion Contract. NASA’s other commercial partner, SpaceX, recently sent an eighth astronaut to the space station, and Boeing still can’t seem to shake off its spell.

The program suffered A series of problems and delaysincluding a Unmanned test flight failed in 2019. Boeing’s crewed Starliner launch was initially scheduled for February 2023, then postponed to late April and finally rescheduled for July 21, 2023. Exit from launch attempt Addressing newly discovered issues with crew vehicles, including having to manually remove a mile of flammable tape. After being scrubbed on May 6 due to the aforementioned valve issues, the crewed capsule will now launch no earlier than May 17.

Boeing’s Starliner’s recent launch delay may not have been the company’s own fault, but it did spark a hilarious, even misleading, spat that continues a series of misfortunes that have dogged the program from the beginning.

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