Boeing and NASA push back Starliner astronaut return to June 22nd

Boeing and NASA push back Starliner astronaut return to June 22nd

The recent announcement from NASA regarding Boeing’s Starliner capsule “Calypso” staying at the International Space Station longer than planned has raised interest and questions among space enthusiasts. Originally scheduled for a nine-day mission, the Starliner crew flight test is now expected to extend to at least 17 days, marking a significant increase in the duration of the mission.

The extended stay is attributed to a series of tests being conducted on the spacecraft while docked with the ISS. These tests include operating the capsule’s hatch, firing thrusters, and checking cabin air temperature, among other assessments. NASA also mentioned the need for “safe haven” testing, without providing detailed explanations, indicating a focus on emergency preparedness scenarios.

Despite encountering some challenges during the mission, such as helium leaks in the propulsion system and malfunctioning thrusters, Boeing and NASA remain optimistic about the successful completion of the mission. Boeing Vice President Mark Nappi reassured that there is ample margin and time for the spacecraft to continue its operations at the ISS.

The Starliner mission, once considered a competitor to SpaceX’s Dragon, has faced setbacks and delays, leading NASA to prioritize alternating flights between the two spacecraft providers. However, the completion of the crew flight test is crucial for Boeing to receive certification from NASA to conduct operational missions with crew on board.

In conclusion, the extended stay of Boeing’s Starliner capsule at the ISS presents an opportunity for rigorous testing and validation of the spacecraft’s capabilities. Despite technical challenges encountered during the mission, both Boeing and NASA remain committed to ensuring the safety and success of the crewed spaceflight program. The outcome of the Starliner crew flight test will have implications for the future of commercial crew missions to the ISS and beyond.