The return of the Starliner postponed to an indefinite date during the summer

The return of the Starliner postponed to an indefinite date during the summer
The return of the Starliner postponed to an indefinite date during the summer

The space capsule Starliner of Being, which should initially return to Earth around ten days ago, sees its return once again delayed and this time to an undetermined date during the month of July. There NASA has in fact decided to extend this return deadline following intensive meetings with several directors and executives of the agency, the objective being to better understand Starliner’s recent setbacks, particularly concerning helium leaks and propellant malfunctions. of the reaction control system (RCS). As a reminder, the mission was launched on June 5 and was initially scheduled to return to Earth on June 14.

Despite these delays, NASA assures that the capsule is safe and fully capable of bringing astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams back to dry land. The spacecraft will therefore remain docked with the ISS while NASA and Boeing collect new data and further analyze the various problems encountered. Steve Stich, head of NASA’s commercial human flight program, says the agency is following standard procedures and does not want Starliner’s departure to interfere with spacewalks planned for June 24 and July 2. For scheduling reasons, the Starliner cannot remain docked with the ISS for more than 45 days, which sets the last possible return date at July 21.

Boeing’s Starliner encountered numerous problems during its preparation, including software bugs, faulty valves and mysterious engine failures, resulting in a loss of $1.5 billion for the Boeing program. For its part, Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm has successfully transported crews to the ISS since 2020. All these efforts are perhaps a little in vain: there would only be six possible crew missions before NASA does not retire the ISS, which is likely to undermine the profitability of the Boeing program.

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