Starliner astronauts’ return trip has been pushed back even further

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams flew over it The long-delayed first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner the spacecraft will not return home from the International Space Station until next month, the original scheduled date of June 14. He said he was pushing back the date of their return trip to further look into problems with the Starliner during flight and to avoid conflicts with future spacewalks. No date has yet been set for the return flight to Earth.

The Starliner launched on June 5 and delivered Wilmore and Williams to the ISS about a day later. Their stay was only to last a week or so. However, during flight, four small helium leaks occurred in the propulsion system, on top of the 4 small helium leaks identified prior to launch. And Starliner for the first time attempted to approach the ISS On June 6 and docking began, five of its 28 thrusters were offline. Boeing was able to restart four of them. It also revealed that teams were investigating a problem with a valve in the service module that “didn’t close properly” a few days after launch.

The space agency has already pushed back the return date several times over the past week, most recently landing on June 26, but now says the flight will not take place until after the planned spacewalks on June 24 and July 2. completed. “We’re using the data to make decisions about managing the leaks of the small helium system and the performance of the boosters that we observed during rendezvous and docking,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said Friday.

“Starliner performs well in orbit while deployed to the space station,” Stich said. “We are strategically using the extra time to clear the way for some critical station activities while we complete preparations for Butch and Suni’s return to Starliner and gain valuable insight into the system improvements we want to make for post-certification missions.”

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