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NASA-Boeing Starliner’s launch was ‘spectacular,’ mission went as planned until day 2, astronauts say

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NASA astronauts aboard Boeing’s Starliner said the takeoff went “great,” but the spacecraft suffered a series of problems on the second day of the mission.

Helium was leaking from the propulsion system, “reducing control and capability” of the thrusters, said NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore, speaking to reporters from space on Wednesday for the first time since the June 5 launch.

He stood next to fellow Starliner astronaut Suni Williams during a video news conference on Wednesday inside the International Space Station, where the spacecraft was docked for a month last month.

“We’ve done a lot of simulations taking this spacecraft through all kinds of iterations and failures, and I feel confident, given where we are now and what we know now,” Williams said. “I have a really good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will get us back to Earth without any issues.”

Starliner was a “lifeboat” for astronauts in case a Russian satellite crashed into the space station

NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore were flight crew members on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which was recovering from a series of problems. (NASA)

There were initial concerns that the astronauts would be stranded in space, but Boeing and NASA officials stressed that Wilmore and Williams were safe and “in good spirits.”

By the end of the 30-minute press conference, Williams was doing backflips as Wilmore laughed.

Take shelter: Russian satellite explodes

Although the questions were more serious, both astronauts expressed confidence they would return safely.

Wilmore said he was on board the Starliner to be able to make an emergency escape if necessary, referring to the defunct Russian satellite that exploded near the space station about two weeks ago.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams during NASA's live coverage of the launch on June 5, 2024.

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams during NASA’s live coverage of the launch on June 5, 2024. (NASA)

Astronaut Suni Williams does a backflip while astronaut Butch Wilmore smiles and gives a thumbs up.

Astronaut Suni Williams does a backflip while astronaut Butch Wilmore smiles and gives a thumbs up. (NASA)

Wilmore said problems were expected during the mission, saying: “This is a testing world. It’s a tough job.”

“Human spaceflight is never easy under any circumstances. Every spacecraft ever designed has had multiple problems. That’s the nature of what we do,” Wilmore said. “You know the mantra: ‘Failure is not an option.'”

Boeing explains why astronauts will stay in space

“That’s why we’re staying here now. Our propulsion equipment has deteriorated, we know that. And that’s why we’re staying, because we’re going to test it.”

“We get the data we need to help us make the right decisions.”

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is in low Earth orbit ahead of its first manned crew-carrying mission to the International Space Station.

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is in low Earth orbit ahead of its first manned crew-carrying mission to the International Space Station. (NASA/YouTube)

Starliner docking with the International Space Station.

Starliner docking with the International Space Station. (NASA)

Our mission and its importance

Boeing and SpaceX funded by Elon Musk These programs play a vital role in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which allows the agency to send astronauts and cargo to the space station without relying on Russia.

The Chinese Communist Party was founded under former President Barack Obama in 2010, one year before NASA retired its space shuttle fleet after 30 years of operation.

What was that? Space junk crashes into mountain resort

The United States relies on Russia to transport cargo and astronauts to the space station, spending about $90 million per astronaut on each round-trip flight.

In 2014, Boeing and SpaceX won NASA contracts after a lengthy competition, lowering the average cost per astronaut to less than $70 million.

Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon are very different rockets.

Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are very different rockets. (NASA)

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SpaceX has completed multiple successful crewed launches since its first launch in 2020.

Starliner’s June 5 launch marks Boeing’s first crewed mission to the space station.

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