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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Unlucky mission. The return of the astronauts has been postponed again

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The return of the Starliner capsule with two astronauts on board has been postponed once again. Americans are scheduled to return to Earth no earlier than June 22, NASA announced on Friday.

The first manned space mission of the Starliner spacecraft began on Wednesday last week. A Boeing capsule with two American astronauts on board arrived at the International Space Station (ISS).

Their goal is to test the spacecraft and its subsystems before NASA will start working on a transportation system for rotational missions. The mission delivered 350 kilograms of cargo, including food, clothing, exercise equipment, medical supplies and photography equipment.

The return has been postponed again

The CST-100 Starliner was originally scheduled to undock from the ISS on Friday. The second scheduled date was the following Tuesday. On Friday, the US space agency announced that the team needed more time to better prepare the ship for its flight to Earth. According to the latest announcement, the astronauts' return will take place no earlier than June 22.

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NASA said astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams will conduct fire tests of seven of the eight thrusters and hatch opening and closing tests, as well as exercises to test the Starliner's emergency capabilities. The flight status and landing details are expected to be presented on Tuesday.

After detaching from the International Space Station, the spacecraft is expected to land within six hours in the desert at White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico, at Willcox Playa in Arizona, or at another similar location, depending on weather conditions.

NASA officials said Starliner could remain docked with the ISS for a maximum of 45 days. Astronauts are staying in space from June 5.

A series of failures

On Monday, NASA reported an additional helium leak from the Starliner's propulsion system – in addition to the four leaks that were identified during the 24-hour journey to the space station. During this flight, five of the 28 maneuvering engines stopped working. NASA and Boeing managed to launch four of them before docking with the ISS. These are not the first problems encountered by the first manned space mission of the Starliner ship. Only the third attempt to launch the rocket, which took place on June 5 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, was successful. The remaining two, on May 6 and June 1, were canceled due to failures.

Main photo source: NASA Commercial Crew/X

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