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HomeTechAstronauts in space thanks to Boeing hope to return to Earth

Astronauts in space thanks to Boeing hope to return to Earth

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Boeing faced several difficulties, but was able to send two NASA astronauts into space. Now, getting them back would be just as complicated.

Leaking and fuel problems emerged after the launch of the Starliner this month with astronauts Barry Wilmore and Sunita Williams on board.

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Officials from Boeing and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced on Tuesday (18) that the astronauts will return on June 26, triggering a new postponement that will cause them to remain in space for about 20 days – originally, they would only stay eight.

Boeing's Starliner capsule launches on June 5, 2024 (Image: NASA)

Problems with the Boeing Starliner could delay astronauts' return to Earth

  • How do you remember? The Wall Street JournalThe Starliner had two major problems: a helium leak in one of its propulsion systems and with several thrusters used to maneuver the ship;
  • For this reason, NASA and Boeing studied the problems before launching the Starliner return with Wilmore and Williams;
  • There are at least four months of reserves of food and other consumables for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS);
  • The Starliner vehicle can remain docked at the ISS for up to 45 days, though it is ultimately intended for six-month missions. The information has been transferred to Wall Street Journal By NASA employees.

“We are taking more time to work on what we saw and make sure we have all the plans to bring the crew home,” NASA program manager Steve Stich said on Tuesday (18).

Other extended stays in space

Previously, there have been other extended stays on the ISS beyond what was expected. As you remember Wall Street JournalLast September, astronaut Frank Rubio returned to Earth after more than a year on the station, a record time for an American.

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The delay was due to a small meteorite that blew a hole in the car that would bring him back, made by Russia. Rubio had to wait until the Russians sent another ship to pick him up.

According to Stitch, the Starliner can transport crew members to Earth in emergency situations. He also pointed out that the NASA and Boeing teams aim to study the spacecraft and the technical challenges it faces as quickly as possible while it is on the International Space Station.

The new Starliner delay is another setback for Boeing, which has wanted to take an astronaut into space for a few years. The company concluded a contract with NASA to carry out six more manned flights to the International Space Station, once it obtains the space agency’s certification for its vehicle.

Boeing's main competitor is SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk. The company transports cargo to the International Space Station under a contract with NASA and took its first astronaut into space in 2020.

Mission managers would not allow Starliner to return if it posed a risk to astronauts, said Mike Leinbach, a former space shuttle launch manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center who was not involved in the mission.

Starliner has been docked at the International Space Station for longer than expected (Image: Artsiom P/Shutterstock)

This one has a few more problems than I expected. We were hoping for a clean trip, but we didn't get it and we're dealing with it. They will find out.

Mike Leinbach, a former space shuttle launch manager at NASA's Kennedy Space Center who was not involved in the mission, said: The Wall Street Journal

The crewed Starliner flight was able to conduct 77 of the 87 stipulated tests, according to Mark Nappi, Boeing's vice president and supervisor of the Starliner program.

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The Starliner needs about seven hours of onboard helium to complete the flight, and currently has about 70 hours remaining.

When the Starliner rendezvoused with the International Space Station, five of its engines failed, but four of them returned to service. Stitch stated that one of the engines would be shut down for the remainder of the mission.

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