NASA astronauts wait aboard ISS to return to Earth due to problems with Boeing Starliner

Two NASA astronauts have no set date to return to Earth and are stuck waiting aboard the International Space Station (ISS) due to several mechanical problems with Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Starliner was launched June 5 from the Cape Canaveral Space Station, Florida, with Captain Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Flight Pilot Sunita “Suni” Williams on board, arriving at the ISS a day later. late.

The mission is part of NASA’s larger commercial crew program, which was testing whether Boeing’s spacecraft could be certified to fly routine missions to and from the ISS.

The couple’s return was originally scheduled for June 14, but their return has since been delayed several times and currently do not have a planned date for their return to Earth.

“We are taking our time and following our mission management team’s standard process,” Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, said in a statement. “We are letting the data guide our decision-making regarding the management of small leaks from the helium system and the performance of the thrusters that we observed during rendezvous and docking.”

PHOTO: United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Atlas V rocket with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida on June 5, 2024.

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida on June 5, 2024.

Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Boeing and NASA said the crew was currently not in danger because they were aboard the ISS with plenty of supplies in orbit, and the station schedule was relatively open until mid-August .

NASA and Boeing say Wilmore and Williams are “integrated” with the Expedition 71 crew aboard the ISS and assist the crew with station operations as needed, as well as achieving “objectives ” necessary for the possible certification of the Starliner by NASA.

“The feedback from the crew has been overwhelmingly positive, and they know that every learning we do during the crewed flight test will improve and refine our experience for future crews,” said Mark Nappi, vice president and director of Boeing’s Starliner program, in a press release. A declaration.

Starliner has been plagued with problems even before its launch. The flight test was originally scheduled for May 6, but was canceled after a problem with an oxygen valve on a rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA), which manufactures and operates the rockets that launch spacecraft into orbit.

A new launch date had been set for May 25, but a small helium leak was discovered in the service module, which contains support systems and instruments for operating a spacecraft.

Helium leaks and a propellant problem then threatened to delay the Starliner’s docking. Five days after docking with the ISS, NASA and Boeing said the spacecraft was experiencing five “small” helium leaks and, at the time, said there was enough helium for the return mission.

ABC News

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