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Starliner Crew’s Return to Earth Delayed Again Due to Technical Issues

ByHuey Yee Ong

Jun 25, 2024

Starliner Crew’s Return to Earth Delayed Again Due to Technical Issues

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, participants in Boeing’s Starliner craft’s inaugural crewed mission, face further delays in their return from the International Space Station (ISS).

Originally scheduled to leave the ISS on June 14 after a short stay following their June 6 arrival, their departure is now postponed until after July 2. This decision by NASA aims to address newly emerged issues with Starliner and schedule conflicts with planned spacewalks.

Starliner’s journey commenced on June 5, successfully transporting Wilmore and Williams to the ISS within a day. However, the mission encountered technical difficulties, including five malfunctioning thrusters during the docking process and persistent helium leaks in the propulsion system, which were noted both before and during the flight. Additionally, a valve in the service module was found to be “not properly closed”, prompting further investigations.

NASA’s adjustments to the return schedule were influenced by ongoing reviews into these anomalies and the necessity to accommodate two spacewalks set for late June and early July. Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, emphasized that the extended stay allows for comprehensive data analysis and necessary station operations while ensuring the astronauts’ safe return via Starliner.

Despite the setbacks, the Starliner has performed adequately while docked, providing the crew and engineers ample time to prepare for future missions and to contemplate system enhancements for subsequent flights.

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Featured Image courtesy of MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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