Boeing says the leak in its spacecraft is perfectly fine, and it will launch astronauts without fixing it

okay then.

Slow leakage

Boeing’s Starliner space capsule has suffered endless setbacks. Just ask poor NASA, which has been waiting for a spacecraft to be ready to transport astronauts to the International Space Station Since 2014.

The latest blow was a small helium leak discovered earlier this month, delaying – once again – the long-awaited launch of the first crewed mission.

But it seems that this issue is not a big problem. At a press conference on Friday, Boeing and NASA said they would go ahead with the launch without fixing the leak, a decision that is bound to raise eyebrows since the company is already mired in controversy over the safety of its planes.

“We can deal with this particular leak if the leakage rate increases up to 100 times,” Steve Stich, director of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said at the conference. As quoted from France Press agency. In other words, even if the leak becomes much worse, its impact on launch safety will be minimal.

Double trouble

The last Starliner launch attempt, on May 6, was unofficially canceled when astronauts were already on board. Through a strange “buzzing” sound, officials discovered a faulty oxygen valve on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket.

This wasn’t necessarily Boeing’s fault. But following the botched launch, a defect was found in the Starliner itself: a helium leak in the spacecraft’s service module, due to a defective seal. The issues appear to be unrelated, and Stitch said the leak only affects one of the Starliner’s 28 attitude control engines, per France Press agency.

Flying with a leak isn’t as bad as it sounds, Stitch added, arguing that leaks have not prevented successful launches in the past, including with SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, NASA’s preferred vehicle for transporting astronauts into space. International Space Station.

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Bad form

But it is a decision that is bound to leave observers uneasy. Boeing Vice President Mark Nappi said the process of replacing the defective seal would be “very involved.” France Press agencyBecause the Starliner will need to be disassembled at its factory and tested again.

Whatever the standard practice, this reasoning ends up sounding like Boeing’s miserly cost-cutting, which allegedly led to all those serious defects in its planes — which appear to be breaking down at an alarming pace.

After the launch, ValveTech, one of NASA’s contractors, warned that another Starliner launch must be halted before “something catastrophic happens.”

Finally, many do not feel confident in Boeing’s safety record at this time. The launch date for the new Starliner is set for June 1, but we’ll have to see if that finally pans out. Hopefully, for the sake of the astronauts, nothing goes wrong.

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