No Return Date Set For Starliner Astronauts

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NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who were originally expected to spend eight days on the International Space Station (ISS), could be spending a couple more weeks as experts work through issues the Starliner experienced upon docking.

According to an article from NPR, NASA is conducting additional ground testing and evaluation of issues the capsule experienced upon docking—namely helium leaks and five thrusters that malfunctioned during docking. In a press conference earlier this week, the agency and Boeing said they are being cautious but stressed that the astronauts were not stranded.

“We’re not stuck on ISS. The crew is not in any danger, and there’s no increased risk when we decide to bring Suni and Butch back to Earth,” said Mark Nappi, manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA officials said the Starliner is designed to remain in space for up to 210 days. While the initial test flight was originally supposed to be limited to 45 days due to the spacecraft’s battery life, the space station is recharging the batteries as intended, allowing NASA to consider extending that limit.

Meanwhile, Starliner’s competitor, SpaceX, launched its eighth crewed NASA flight into orbit in March.   

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.