Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from International Space Station delayed, here's why - Hindustan Times
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Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from International Space Station delayed, here's why

BySumanti Sen
Jun 19, 2024 07:25 AM IST

The Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from the International Space Station has been delayed for some crucial reasons.

The Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from the International Space Station has been delayed, with the new date being June 26, NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stich has revealed, Reuters reported.

Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from International Space Station delayed (AP/PTI)(AP06_06_2024_000115B)(AP)
Boeing Starliner’s return to earth from International Space Station delayed (AP/PTI)(AP06_06_2024_000115B)(AP)

On June 5, astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams reportedly launched from Cape Canaveral. While they managed to dock with the ISS, there were four helium leaks, as well as five failures of its 28 manoeuvring thrusters.

Why was the return delayed?

The return of the vehicle will be delayed due to thruster troubleshooting and a scheduled spacewalk, as per CNN. According to Stich, the delay would “give our team a little bit more time to look at the data, do some analysis and make sure we’re really ready to come home.”

“We look at that as an opportunity and in this case, a privilege to stay on station and do more work,” Boeing’s commercial crew program lead Mark Nappi said, as per the Sentinel. “We’ve always said this is a test flight. We’re going to learn some things. So here we are.”

Nappi added that further investigation into the helium leaks are necessary, and it is important to figure out why some thrusters shut down during docking. The flight was initially scheduled for just eight days.

This flight is notably the first human spaceflight of the commercial capsule. If the test is successfully completed, NASA and Boeing will be given full certification of the Starliner. This will allow it to alternate with SpaceX on frequent missions that will carry astronauts to the ISS.

As per a contract, Boeing is supposed to fly six missions with the Starliner-1, starting next February. However, the company is already four years behind SpaceX. SpaceX has been flying astronauts from the United States since as long as May 2020.

Meanwhile, the flight is expected to take about six hours to return to earth. It will possibly target a desert site in New Mexico or Utah.

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