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NASA again postpones return of Boeing Starliner crew from space

NASA and Boeing have again postponed the return of the Starliner with its two-person crew from the International Space Station (ISS). Complete a full review Regarding technical problems with the spacecraft.

The mission, Boeing’s first manned space launch, was originally scheduled to last nine days.

It’s unclear at this time exactly when flight commander Butch Wilmore and pilot Suni Williams will return from space, though NASA has indicated it is considering a date after the two spacewalks on June 24 and July 2.

“We are taking our time and following standard Mission Management Team processes,” Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said in a statement, “making data-driven decisions regarding the management of the small helium system leak and thruster performance observed during rendezvous and docking.”

The Calypso spacecraft has been plagued by helium leaks and thruster problems since it was launched into space on June 5 after numerous delays. Four of the spacecraft’s 28 thrusters failed while attempting to dock with the ISS, delaying its landing. Currently, only one thruster is malfunctioning.

The Starliner mission was meant to be the culmination of a decades-long effort by Boeing to design space missions using its own spacecraft, and the test flight in question was the final step before the company could begin ferrying astronauts to the space station.

The problems Boeing is currently facing with the spacecraft mean more problems for the company. After years of controversy over the Boeing 737 Max passenger jet, the successful test flight was expected to be a win.

Boeing and its main rival, SpaceX, have been competing in the private space race since NASA selected the two companies to build the spacecraft that would transport U.S. astronauts to the ISS in 2014. SpaceX launched its first crewed mission, Dragon, in 2020 and has flown nine missions with NASA since then.

NASA initially awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion and Boeing $4 billion for their respective programs, but Boeing has since suffered $1.5 billion in cost overruns, according to Reuters.

The astronauts were scheduled to return on June 26, which had already been delayed by 12 days from the original planned date of June 14.