Floral Pattern
Floral Pattern

Boeing Starliner Stuck In Space

Starliner spacecraft docked at the International Space Station in June 2024.

Multiple technical issues delay Starliner's return to Earth by at least a week. Issues include helium leaks and thruster failures.

Five separate helium leaks were discovered in the propulsion system after the launch. One leak was detected before launch, and four more appeared after deployment from the rocket.

Five thrusters in the reaction-control system failed during the approach to the ISS. Astronauts had to perform manual maneuvers for extended docking sequences.

Valve problems were identified, including one that failed to shut properly. Starliner now relies on a backup "B valve" in the reaction control system.

Components like valves behave differently in the absence of gravity, potentially contributing to issues.

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams' stay extended to at least July 2. Crew remains integrated with ISS Expedition 71, assisting with station operations.

NASA and Boeing conducting comprehensive reviews and system checks. Agency-level review similar to SpaceX Demo-2 mission to document acceptance of plan.

Engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center testing Starliner's helium seals. Deliberately damaging seals to assess leak rates and potential impacts.

Starliner cleared for emergency return if needed, with a 70-hour helium supply for a 7-hour journey. Plenty of supplies on ISS, a relatively open schedule through mid-August.