Sunday, July 14, 2024
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Starliner astronauts’ return journey further delayed

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on the spacecraft Boeing Starliner’s first crewed flight severely delayed The spacecraft will not return from the International Space Station until sometime next month, well past its original planned return date of June 14. It was announced last night that the return date would be further postponed to allow for more review of issues that arose during Starliner’s flight and to avoid conflict with an upcoming spacewalk. As of now, a return flight date to Earth has not yet been determined.

Starliner launched on June 5, carrying Wilmore and Williams to the International Space Station about a day later. Their stay is only expected to last about a week. However, during the flight, four small helium leaks occurred in the propulsion system, in addition to the leaks that had been discovered before launch. And, when Starliner first Trying to get close to the International Space Station When docking began on June 6, five of its 28 thrusters were offline. Boeing successfully returned four of the planes to service. It was also revealed days after launch that the team was investigating an issue with a valve in the service module that “did not close properly.”

The space agency has pushed back the return date several times in the last week, most recently to a landing on June 26, but now says it will not proceed until after the planned spacewalks on June 24 and July 2. this flight. “We let the data drive our decisions about managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking,” Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, said Friday. .

“Starliner performed well in orbit while docking with the space station,” Stich added. “We strategically used the extra time to clear the way for some critical space station activities while completing the Butch and Suni re-entry. Return to Starliner preparations and gain valuable insights into the system upgrades we hope to make for post-certification missions.

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