NASA pushes back the return of the Boeing Starliner to Earth – Boeing and NASA have recently made an announcement regarding the delay in the return of the Boeing Starliner capsule from the International Space Station.

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This delay is part of a series of postponements that have occurred in the past. The departure date of the Starliner has been rescheduled several times due to various issues encountered during its journey to the space station, which initially launched astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on June 5.

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The problems encountered during the mission included the sudden malfunctioning of five thrusters and a number of helium leaks.

Although a new return date has not been immediately disclosed, the space agency has indicated that the inaugural Starliner crew will not be returning until July.

NASA mentioned in a blog post that the delay allows the mission team to carefully review propulsion system data.

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Steve Stich, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager, explained that they took their time and followed standard procedures to make decisions based on data regarding small helium system leaks and booster performance.

Stich also mentioned that Starliner might stay docked at the space station for up to 45 days if needed.

This adjustment in the schedule takes into account two upcoming spacewalks planned by astronauts outside the station, with the final spacewalk scheduled for July 2, indicating that Starliner’s return will not occur before that date.

Boeing Starliner
NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are on the Boeing Starliner. Photo credit: CNN

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NASA and Boeing officials assured the public during a press conference on Tuesday, when the delay was first made public, that they were committed to ensuring the safety of the Starliner capsule on the space station while addressing the helium leak and thruster issues.

Stich confirmed that the vehicle was safe and there was no indication that it would not be able to complete the return journey.

Stich further stressed on Friday that the Boeing Starliner spacecraft was preparing for emergency return in case the crew needed to leave the space station and come back to Earth.

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Nappi also highlighted that the knowledge gained from the Crew Flight Test would enhance the experience for future crews.

Mark Nappi, the vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, mentioned in a statement that despite the delays, the feedback from Wilmore and Williams regarding the Starliner spacecraft has been extremely favorable.


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