Boeing’s Starliner Launch Could Face Serious Delay
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Boeing’s Starliner Launch Could Face Serious Delay

Aerospace company likely will need to remove space capsule for repairs to problematic valves.

By Andrew Tangel and Micah Maidenberg
Fri, Aug 13, 2021 11:47amGrey Clock 2 min

Boeing Co. BA -0.55% ’s Starliner space capsule launch could be delayed several months as the company will likely need to remove it from atop a rocket for repairs, people familiar with the matter said.

Such a delay would be a setback for Boeing’s space program. The company has spent years developing the Starliner and was supposed to launch it late last month to dock with the International Space Station, without crew on board—after a failed attempt a year and a half ago. Ultimately, the capsule is supposed to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Boeing engineers have been working to repair a problem with some of the valves in a propulsion system on the Starliner that was discovered earlier this month while the vehicle sat on a launchpad. The company first said it was investigating the valve issues last week, and on Monday disclosed that 13 valves had failed to open as expected during preflight checks

Seven of the valves are working, the company has said, and engineers have continued to try to fix the others. The issue led the company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to postpone two potential launch dates for the Starliner last week.

As teams continued to work on the valve problem, separating the Starliner from the rocket appeared increasingly necessary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Engineers working on the Starliner are focused on giving priority to the safety of the spacecraft and their colleagues as they worked on addressing the issue with the valves, John Vollmer, a Boeing executive overseeing the Starliner, said in a statement last week.

Boeing and NASA on Monday said they hadn’t given up on potentially launching the Starliner this month. NASA said then the earliest possible date for another attempt would be in the middle of this month.

Ahead of the Starliner do-over, NASA and Boeing officials in July said they had subjected the spacecraft to rigorous, increased testing to ensure a successful test.

In December 2019, a Boeing software error prevented the Starliner from getting into the correct orbit and it never docked with the space station. Another potentially catastrophic error was fixed during the mission to prevent damaging the spacecraft’s protective heat shield.

The 2019 botched space mission came as Boeing was struggling with the fallout of two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX passenger aircraft. Company executives have since sought to revamp how the company handles engineering, safety and quality issues.

NASA has said it wants to have two U.S.-based companies available to transport astronauts to and from the space station. Right now, the agency has one confirmed provider, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the formal name for Elon Musk’s SpaceX, in place for those flights. Its second option is to contract for seats on Russian rockets.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 12, 2021

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Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II Sets Auction Record
By FANG BLOCK
Fri, Dec 2, 2022 2 min

Andy Warhol’s portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II sold for C$1.14 million (US$855,000) at an auction last week, setting a record price for an editioned print by the Pop artist, the Canadian auction house Heffel said.

Warhol created the screenprint in 1985 based on a photograph taken by Peter Grugeon at Windsor Castle in 1975, which was released in 1977 on the occasion of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, according to Heffel.

Queen Elizabeth II died in September at the age of 96 after a seven-decade reign, making her one of the longest-reigning monarchs in history.

The portrait features the then-reigning Queen wearing the diamond-and-pearl Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara and a matching necklace, and a blue sash pinned with a medallion with a miniature portrait of her father, George VI, on regal blue background. The outline of the portrait was accentuated by diamond dust, which glimmered in the light.

This print is one of only two editions signed as “HC” for Hors d’Commerce (not for sale) aside from the 30 numbered editions with this colour scheme and diamond dust, according to Heffel.

The consignor acquired the print circa 1996 from Bob Rennie, a prominent Vancouver businessman and collector, according to Heffel, which declined to disclose the identities of the consignor and the buyer.

Offered as a highlight at Heffel’s 85-lot auction of Post-War and contemporary art on Nov. 24 in Toronto, the print realised a price more than double its presale estimate, and was the highest achieved by an editioned print by Warhol, the auction house said.

The previous auction record for an editioned Warhol print was for a piece from the same edition, also in the regal blue coloursold in September at Sotheby’s for £554,400 (US$662,000), according to Heffel.

The most expensive Warhol work is his portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, which was acquired by gallerist Larry Gagosian at a Christie’s auction in May for US$195 million, marking a record price for a work by an American artist at auction.

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