Return of Sunita Williams-led Boeing Starliner mission delayed, stay at space station to be extended | World news


Two astronauts aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft, who previously departed for a few days, are still unsure about their return date more than three weeks later.

A crewed test flight launched on June 5 encountered problems including a helium leak and thruster failure.

Despite these challenges, officials have assured that the Starliner will be safe for astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore.

Steve Stich, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager, said Friday that the agency is considering extending the mission's duration from 45 to 90 days. The final return date is still uncertain due to ongoing tests and evaluations.

“The timeline for conducting and reviewing testing in New Mexico is a key factor in determining the landing date,” Stich said. The extension is intended to address issues identified during the spacecraft's journey, particularly with its thrusters as reported. CNN,

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Boeing vice president and program manager Mark Nappi said the goal of the ongoing ground tests is to find the root cause of the problem.

“If the tests yield a complete solution, we can remove the dock and return. If not, additional tests may be needed to get a complete answer,” he said.

Meanwhile, Williams and Wilmore have integrated with the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) and are performing their assigned tasks.

The mission's complications began as soon as Starliner launched on an Atlas V rocket. Although a helium leak was detected before flight, it was manageable at the time. Nappi has no regrets about going ahead with the flight, saying it was always intended as a test.

“Despite the problems the mission has provided valuable data,” Nappi said. “This is part of our process to refine and improve the spacecraft for future missions.”

In another space-related incident, a defunct Russian satellite broke into more than 100 pieces of debris, forcing the US Space Command to take precautionary measures.

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Due to the accident on Wednesday, the astronauts on the ISS had to take shelter in their spacecraft for about an hour. Reuters informed of.

The satellite, RESURS-P1, created a cloud of debris that has since expanded to about 180 pieces, the US Space Command reported. Given its orbit of about 355 km (220 miles) above Earth, the debris is expected to remain a threat for several weeks to several months.

The incident has raised growing concerns about space debris, which could pose a collision risk and cause a cascading effect called Kessler syndrome.

This phenomenon could rapidly increase the amount of debris in space, complicating satellite operations and space missions.

The disintegration of the RESURS-P1 satellite underscores the challenge of managing space debris and ensuring the safety of spacecraft and satellites operating in increasingly crowded orbits.


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