NASA astronauts’ return on Boeing’s spaceship has been delayed repeatedly

by | Jun 24, 2024 | Science

The two NASA astronauts who flew Boeing’s Starliner capsule to the International Space Station earlier this month have stayed in orbit much longer than anticipated — and will continue to do so, NASA and Boeing say.The original plan for this first crewed test flight of the Starliner called for veteran astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams to spend about a week on the space station before riding the capsule back to Earth. They arrived at the orbiting outpost June 6.But their return journey has been postponed several times. NASA initially floated June 18 as the earliest date the astronauts could return, after which the agency said the flight back would happen on June 22. Then that was changed to June 26, and the latest delay, announced Friday, pushed the planned landing back to an as yet undetermined new date.The reason for the adjustments, NASA has said, is an investigation into issues with the capsule that cropped up earlier in the flight. The spacecraft’s propulsion system has a slow helium leak — something mission managers knew about prior to launch. At the time, they said it was unlikely to affect the test flight or the safety of the astronauts, but four additional helium leaks were detected once the spacecraft reached orbit.As the Starliner craft neared the space station on June 6, five of its thrusters also malfunctioned, delaying the final approach by just over an hour.Officials at NASA and Boeing said they are continuing to monitor these issues as they plan for the capsule’s return.“We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. “We are letting the data drive our decision making relative to managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking.” Boeing’s Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (John Raoux / AP file)The Starliner’s test flight to the International Space Station is meant to demonstrate that the vehicle can safely ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnThe two NASA astronauts who flew Boeing’s Starliner capsule to the International Space Station earlier this month have stayed in orbit much longer than anticipated — and will continue to do so, NASA and Boeing say.The original plan for this first crewed test flight of the Starliner called for veteran astronauts Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams to spend about a week on the space station before riding the capsule back to Earth. They arrived at the orbiting outpost June 6.But their return journey has been postponed several times. NASA initially floated June 18 as the earliest date the astronauts could return, after which the agency said the flight back would happen on June 22. Then that was changed to June 26, and the latest delay, announced Friday, pushed the planned landing back to an as yet undetermined new date.The reason for the adjustments, NASA has said, is an investigation into issues with the capsule that cropped up earlier in the flight. The spacecraft’s propulsion system has a slow helium leak — something mission managers knew about prior to launch. At the time, they said it was unlikely to affect the test flight or the safety of the astronauts, but four additional helium leaks were detected once the spacecraft reached orbit.As the Starliner craft neared the space station on June 6, five of its thrusters also malfunctioned, delaying the final approach by just over an hour.Officials at NASA and Boeing said they are continuing to monitor these issues as they plan for the capsule’s return.“We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. “We are letting the data drive our decision making relative to managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking.” Boeing’s Starliner capsule atop an Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (John Raoux / AP file)The Starliner’s test flight to the International Space Station is meant to demonstrate that the vehicle can safely ferry astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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