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Starliner launch delayed after 'unplanned firing' of Russian module puts ISS out of orientation

Launch teams are assessing the next opportunity for liftoff.
Credit: AP
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, on Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ready for the second un-piloted test flight to the International Space Station, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The launch is scheduled for Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Boeing's Starliner will be standing down from its Friday launch attempt after an "unplanned firing" of Russia's new Multipurpose Laboratory Module moved the International Space Station out of orientation.

"At 12:45 pm, the flight control team noticed the unplanned firing of MLM thrusters that caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams have regained attitude control and the motion of the space station is stable," NASA wrote.

The space agency added that the crew onboard the orbiting laboratory were never and are not currently in any danger due to the shift but that Mission Control Houston is monitoring the ISS's status.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about Boeing's second orbital flight test

“Today was another day where we are learning how important it is to have an operational team that is prepared for every contingency," Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations said.

Due to the incident, NASA and Boeing have made the decision to delay the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission which was set to liftoff at 2:53 p.m. on July 30 from Cape Canaveral.

"The move allows the International Space Station team time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos’ Nauka module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival," NASA wrote.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson thanked those involved in correcting the incident for their "unparalleled expertise," adding he was thankful for their ingenuity. 

RELATED: Boeing astronaut pulls himself off historic space flight for daughter's wedding

Launch teams are targeting 1:20 p.m. ET on Aug. 3 as its next earliest launch opportunity with docking occurring by 3:06 p.m. the following day.

During the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, Boeing will attempt to successfully prove Starliner's end-to-end capabilities. The mission will take the company's uncrewed capsule to the International Space Station before returning back to Earth in an effort to prove it is astronaut-ready. 

This will be Boeing's second shot at success after its first test flight ended with Starliner going off course and being unable to dock with the ISS. Several improvements have been made to the spacecraft since the 2019 incident. 

If all goes well Boeing could provide the data NASA needs to certify the spacecraft for regular flights of astronauts.

RELATED: NASA adds more safety fixes to Boeing's crew capsule

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