May 19, 2024

A company warns NASA against launching the “Starliner” with astronauts – “risk of disaster”

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Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft awaits its first launch with a crew on board. © Thierry Reyna/DPA

A humming noise prevents the Starliner spacecraft from lifting off. One valve expert is now warning of a potential disaster at the launch pad.

CAPE CANAVERAL – The first manned launch of the Starliner spacecraft was canceled last Tuesday (May 7), two hours before its scheduled launch. Tory Bruno, president of rocket operator United Launch Alliance (ULA), cited a noticeable “buzzing noise” as the cause of the abort in a subsequent news conference. It was discovered that it was necessary to check the valve in the upper stage of the rocket, which is the valve responsible for transporting the Starliner into space. It is now clear: the valve will be replaced and the anticipated launch will not take place before May 17.

ValveTech, an American company specializing in valves, says it is working with the US space agency NASA She cooperated and commented clearly on the incident. Erin Favell, president of ValveTech, warned in a statement press release: “As an important partner of NASA and as valve experts, we strongly advise against attempting a second launch due to the risk of a catastrophe on the launch pad.” She added: “According to media reports, someone noticed a humming sound indicating a valve leak near the Starliner minutes before takeoff. This noise may indicate that the valve has exceeded its useful life.

Before the launch of “Starliner”: A valve expert warns NASA of a “disaster”

Favell also recommended: “NASA should double down on safety checks and re-examine safety protocols to ensure the Starliner is safe before disaster strikes the astronauts and those on Earth.”

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Tori Bruno, President of ULA, Comment on X (formerly Twitter) regarding these claims: “Not sure what to say about this. Almost none of this is true: not urgent. no leaks etc. It is worth noting that the person mentioned does not seem to know how this type of valve works.”

A long legal dispute between valve manufacturers

Favell’s comments should be viewed against the backdrop of a long-running legal dispute between ValveTech and competitor Aerojet Rocketdyne. Aerojet Rocketdyne is the supplier of the Starliner vehicle, and this may be the reason for the warning, as the legal dispute between the two companies has just been resolved. ValveTech sued Aerojet Rocketdyne several years ago because the company used ValveTech’s trade secrets to develop new valves.

The lawsuit was recently decided in ValveTech’s favor, with the company receiving $850,000 in damages. ValveTech demanded further restrictions on the competitor and reimbursement of legal costs. However, the court rejected these requests a few days before the press release was published. (unpaid bill)