Starliner’s return to Earth is delayed another four days

The undocking of the new Boeing Starliner spacecraft from the International Space Station has been postponed again. Engineers plan to conduct a number of more tests before astronauts Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore return to Earth.

CST-100 Starliner. Source:

Starliner remains docked to the ISS

NASA and Boeing officials say the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will not undock from the International Space Station any sooner than June 24. This decision was made due to the engineers’ desire to conduct additional testing of its systems, including those not envisioned in the original flight plan.

Initially, the separation of the spacecraft was scheduled for June 14. However, last week it became known that it was postponed to June 18. And now it has been revealed that Sunita Williams and Barry Wilmore will stay on the station for an additional four days before returning to Earth.

What kind of testing will the engineers do?

The first test that engineers want to conduct during the delay will concern the Starliner’s engines. There are a total of eight of them on the spacecraft and seven of them will be switched on, making two short pulses. Each of them will last about a second. Specialists want to see how the spacecraft will interact with the station. This may be useful in the next missions.

There were problems with these engines during docking with the station. Five of these were emergency shutdown by the computer due to going into unacceptable modes of operation. Later, however, four of them managed to start manually.

The second series of tests will consist of measuring the air temperature in its cabin and comparing this data with the onboard life support system. The astronauts will also test whether the spacecraft can be used as a safe hiding place for four people.

Not mentioned problems

The specialists did not say anything about the situation with the helium leaks. There were five in total. The first one occurred a few weeks before the launch, three during the flight and one more after docking with the station. But there is still enough of this gas on board, so the mission is not threatened in any way.

The situation with astronauts’ spacewalks is also unclear. NASA management is very reluctant to carry it out at the same time as the undocking of Starliner. In particular, because of this, the latter did not take place on June 14.

However, the spacewalk also had to be postponed, and it is now scheduled for June 24. However, if the delay of the Starliner’s departure is prolonged, it could again cause a conflict.

According to