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NASA is about to give an important update on Starliner spacecraft

Boeing Space's Starliner docked at the International Space Station in June 2024.
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft remains docked at the International Space Station. NASA

NASA will offer an update on Wednesday regarding the Boeing Starliner spacecraft currently stuck at the International Space Station (ISS).

The Starliner docked at the ISS on June 6 after carrying its first crew to orbit. But issues with the spacecraft’s thrusters as it approached the orbital outpost raised concerns about the Starliner’s ability to get the crew back home safely. The thrusters play a key role in ensuring that the spacecraft makes it to the correct reentry point and so NASA needs to be confident that they’re functioning properly.

Another cause for concern are the helium leaks that were detected on the spacecraft during the trip to the ISS.

The mission was supposed to last about a week, but a month later, the Starliner remains docked at the ISS with crew members Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore still on the station as NASA engineers continue to evaluate the best course of action. A date for the flight home has still not been set.

Wednesday’s teleconference begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 10, and audio from the gathering will be streamed in real time on NASA’s website. Taking part will be Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, and Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager of the Commercial Crew Program at Boeing.

In another teleconference at the end of last month, Stich said, “I want to make it very clear that Butch and Suni are not stranded in space.”

A post on the agency’s website on Monday said NASA and Boeing are “continuing to evaluate Starliner’s propulsion system performance and five small helium leaks in the spacecraft’s service module, gathering as much data as possible while docked to the International Space Station.”

While NASA still seems intent on bringing the Starliner home with the astronauts on board, it’s also possible that the spacecraft will come back empty, with Williams and Wilmore hitching a ride home on the SpaceX Crew Dragon that’s currently docked at the station.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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