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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Boeing Starliner Set to Return Astronauts Despite Five Leaks and Stuck Valve

•, by Brian Wang

Teams currently are assessing what impacts, if any, five small leaks in the service module helium manifolds would have on the remainder of the mission. Engineers evaluated the helium supply based on current leak rates and determined that Starliner has plenty of margin to support the return trip from station. Only seven hours of free-flight time is needed to perform a normal end of mission, and Starliner currently has enough helium left in its tanks to support 70 hours of free flight activity following undocking. While Starliner is docked, all the manifolds are closed per normal mission operations preventing helium loss from the tanks.

Engineers also are evaluating an RCS oxidizer isolation valve in the service module that is not properly closed. Ground teams performed a successful propulsion system valve checkout on Sunday. All other oxidizer and fuel valves within the service module were cycled normally. The suspect oxidizer isolation valve was not cycled in the recent checkout. It will remain commanded closed for the remainder of the mission while ground teams continue to evaluate its data signatures. The crew module propulsion valves, which are part of an independent system that steers the capsule in the last phase of flight before landing, also were successfully cycled, and all those valves are performing as designed.