‘A good feeling the spaceship will take us home’: Two astronauts still ‘stuck’ in space

‘A good feeling the spaceship will take us home’: Two astronauts still ‘stuck’ in space
‘A good feeling the spaceship will take us home’: Two astronauts still ‘stuck’ in space

They should have returned to Earth several weeks ago, but are still in space: the two astronauts of the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft, developed by Boeing, showed their confidence in their vehicle on Wednesday, despite the problems encountered.

The two American astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams were initially supposed to spend less than two weeks in the flying laboratory, but have already been there for more than a month.

The cause: problems with the capsule’s propulsion system as it approached the International Space Station (ISS), which led NASA to postpone their departure while tests were conducted.

“I have a very good feeling that the spaceship will bring us home, no problem.”Suni Williams said at a news conference conducted from space. In the meantime, “We are having a great time here on the ISS”she added.

Butch Wilmore praised the capabilities of the ship, which he piloted manually en route to the ISS, particularly its precision.

As a test pilot, he put the challenges he encountered into perspective: “This is the world of testing. It’s a tough industry.”he said. “Every spacecraft ever designed has had multiple problems. It’s the nature of our work.”

Damaged thrusters?

Just before the ship docked with the station, five of the 28 small thrusters had failed at some point, although all but one were eventually restarted.

NASA has since begun ground tests of a similar thruster, subjecting it to conditions similar to those experienced in flight.

“During this flight, we fired the thrusters more than expected.”explained a senior NASA official, Steve Stich, on Wednesday. This ground test should thus allow “to understand the effect of the heat” induced, he added.

“We do not believe we have damaged thrusters” But these tests are to “ensure” that, said Mark Nappi, a senior Boeing executive.

The propulsion system is crucial for the return to Earth. Large thrusters provide the main thrust, while smaller ones — the ones NASA and Boeing are working on — ensure the ship’s correct orientation.

But even if several of these small thrusters were not working at the time of descent, others could take over since the ship has more than enough for this maneuver, Stich explained.

NASA therefore assures that astronauts can currently use the capsule at any time to return in the event of an emergency.

Boeing teams are also working to better understand another anomaly: helium leaks detected on the ship.

Helium, of which there should be sufficient reserves despite the leaks, is a non-flammable gas but is used in the propulsion system.

Return end of July at best

Currently, the most optimistic date for the return of the two astronauts is “late July,” Stich said.

The mission, which was carried out years behind schedule after numerous setbacks during Starliner’s development, is intended to enable the ship to obtain NASA certification and then begin its regular space taxi operations.

In the meantime, NASA astronauts have already been joining the ISS thanks to SpaceX’s Dragon ships for four years.

The US space agency wants to have a second means of transport thanks to Boeing, in order to be able to better deal with possible problems on one of the capsules or emergency situations.

Steve Stich said Wednesday that “no discussions” have taken place with SpaceX about possibly sending a Dragon ship to bring back the two astronauts — which would be a humiliation for Boeing.

“The first option today is to bring Butch and Suni back with Starliner”he hammered home. “At this point in time, we see no reason why this should not be the case.”

international space station earth boeing

-

-

PREV The Sims 5 Development Has Been Cancelled, Leaks Say
NEXT Brunello Cucinelli unveils cutting-edge AI-powered website