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Why Boeing's Starliner capsule has been stuck in space for a week ?

©Boeing

The first mission of the Starliner spacecraft continues to be plagued with problems. After multiple postponements of takeoff for various problems (notably leaks from the side thruster valves), Boeing ended up obtaining the green light from NASA to send its capsule into orbit on June 5. On board the two astronauts from the American space agency were certainly not very reassured.

Especially since we learned, a few hours before takeoff, that helium leaks from these famous valves were still present. Despite this problem, NASA maintained its green light sending two astronauts into space in an imperfectly compliant rocket. If the flight went well, NASA subsequently explained that these leaks are common and that “95% of missions to the ISS have problems of this type”, they demonstrate once again the flaws of the Starliner capsule.

Stuck in orbit

For two weeks, the capsule Starliner managed, against all odds, to cling to the ISS. The international space station was, however, only to be a temporal home port for the small vessel. It was originally written in the flight plan that Starliner would return to Earth on June 26.

But on the 21st, five days before this return mission, NASA published a press release postponing Starliner's departure date. The American space agency explains that all the conditions are not yet met to safely bring back the two astronauts who are making the return trip.

An object of study for the NASA

The American space agency assures in its press release that the situation is much more controlled than it appears. According to the official terms used by the agency, the delay in this return mission is due to experiments carried out in space by NASA and Boeing on the capsule.

In fact, helium leaks around the capsule have never stopped. However, it is much easier to spot these leaks in space, when said capsule is surrounded by vacuum, than in a Boeing laboratory. This is essentially why NASA wants to take its time and closely study these helium leaks around the capsule.

The objective for the American space agency is to understand how these problems could have happened; the ISS does not have the necessary equipment to consider repairs. Once this business case is established, NASA will give the green light to send two astronauts back to their home planet.

Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore, the two people involved have already made the outbound flight. In several statements made to the press, they assure that they have no concerns about the risks involved. They have complete trust in NASA and the engineers on the ground. In the meantime, they are enjoying an extended mission aboard the ISS.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116