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Starliner’s return to Earth delayed once more, till subsequent month

Boeing's Starliner capsule docked at the ISS.
NASA / NASA

The Boeing Starliner that’s at the moment docked on the International Space Station (ISS) after making its first crewed take a look at flight is not going to be returning to Earth this week as deliberate. The return of the Starliner has already been delayed once, however now NASA has introduced that the return is not going to happen till early July.

The Starliner launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 6 and made it safely to the ISS carrying NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore. However, there have been issues with helium leaks each earlier than and during the journey in addition to a problem with the spacecraft’s response management thrusters that required two makes an attempt at docking.

Now, NASA is delaying the return of the Starliner to make extra time to research these points. “We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” mentioned Steve Stich, supervisor of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, 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. Additionally, given the duration of the mission, it is appropriate for us to complete an agency-level review, similar to what was done ahead of … NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return after two months on orbit, to document the agency’s formal acceptance on proceeding as planned.”

NASA has not but introduced a particular date for the deliberate return, however has mentioned that it is going to be after two upcoming spacewalks which can be scheduled for Monday, June 24, and Tuesday, July 2. One of those spacewalks was delayed from its authentic date of June 13 as a result of an unusual reason: a discomfort difficulty with a spacesuit for one of many spacewalkers.

Space station managers usually plan for there to be some wiggle room between dates for main occasions like departures and arrivals of crewed or provide spacecraft and spacewalks in order that the crew can deal with one occasion at a time. NASA emphasised that the delays within the departure of the Starliner don’t imply that the spacecraft is a hazard or that the crew members are unsafe.

“Starliner is performing well in orbit while docked to the space station,” mentioned Stich. “We are strategically using the extra time to clear a path for some critical station activities while completing readiness for Butch and Suni’s return on Starliner and gaining valuable insight into the system upgrades we will want to make for post-certification missions.”

For now, Williams and Wilmore will stay on the ISS with the opposite crew members, and NASA says they’re “not pressed for time to leave” as there are many provides for everybody to remain comfortably.

“The crew’s feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and they know that every bit of learning we do on the Crew Flight Test will improve and sharpen our experience for future crews,” mentioned Mark Nappi, vice chairman and program supervisor of Boeing’s Starliner Program.

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