Return of Boeing's first manned space mission postponed until June 26

MiamiThe company's first manned space mission Boeing again delayed his return to Earth from International Space Station (ISS), and now it will be next June 26, to ensure issues related to helium leaks, propellants and an isolation valve, among others.

In the event that the return to our planet of the Starliner, manned by astronauts, is not possible that day Barry 'Butch' Wilmore and Sunita 'Suni' Williamsthe next scheduled date will be July 2, those responsible for the mission indicated in a teleconference.

The space mission had initially scheduled its return to our planet for last Friday; but, after its postponement to Saturday, it is still docked on the orbital platform to complete a series of operations and resolve the helium leaks.

Once the engineering data has been reviewed, “The experts will focus on the return of the ship and valued the choice of June 26 as an opportunity to land in the desert of New Mexico before dawn, the date on which they expect mild weather.”said NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich.

However, Stich noted that it is difficult to predict what the weather may be like in the desert, even more so with the added effect of the terrain and mountain ranges.

Ground crews have been collecting a wealth of data from both Starliner, which shows “good health”as well as the service module (which has produced some leaks in its helium tanks) to better understand the performance of the ship in future missions.

At the conference it was detailed that five reaction control thrusters failed during the docking sequence on the platform, towards the end of the flight, so the ground teams of the POT and Boeing carefully review all thruster mechanisms.

Enough helium for your return to Earth

Regarding helium leaks from the tanks, the fifth and smallest leak was detected after the docking of the CFT (Crew Flight Test) mission to the ISS, although the helium leaks were reduced in the following days.

Experts point out that the helium leaks could have been due to the activity of the thrusters, although this does not affect the ship's return to Earth, since it has enough of this noble gas.

The experts indicated in the teleconference that they need to “work this week to try to finish everything by Saturday and that the teams “are going to review all the thruster ignition data and compare them with the simulations.”

Regarding the sensations of the Starliner astronauts, Stich pointed out that “They are doing well, they love the vehicle and being on the ISS,” where they arrived on June 6.

They are so well that “they would like to stay for a long period of time” on the space platformhe claimed.

During the conference call, Boeing Commercial Crew Program Vice President Mark Nappi noted that the mission can remain on the ISS as long as it needs to.

“No hurry. “We have to be ready for the return and – she noted – learn more about the performance of the thrusters and the helium leak.”said.

Dana Weigel, deputy director of the NASA program for the ISS, added, for her part, that this time will be used to carry out activities on the Starliner and measure the response in case of emergency, although the crew, she added, has completed all the tests. that had been marked.

The mission will allow Boeing to obtain the necessary certifications to operate as a second provider of cargo and crew transportation to the ISS, as SpaceX already does after million-dollar contracts that both private firms have signed with NASA.

The spacecraft is embedded in the Harmony module of the ISS and was scheduled to remain in this orbital laboratory for a week before returning on June 14.