Thursday, July 18, 2024

NASA shares good news about Boeing Starliner as Sunita Williams still in space

Amid the growing concerns about the Boeing Starliner‘s return to Earth, NASA has shared some good news. The space agency revealed at a conference last week that the spacecraft is in fairly good shape and can stay in orbit beyond its 45-day limit. Launched on June 5, the spacecraft was initially due for a one-week mission. But, the Starliner experienced helium leaks from its service module, forcing it to remain docked at the International Space Station (ISS).

In this photo provided by NASA, Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Suni Williams pose for a portrait inside the vestibule between the forward port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on June 13, 2024. (NASA via AP)(AP)

Boeing Starliner can stay in orbit beyond 45 days

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams managed to dock at the ISS after the spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral. However, in the lead-up to the docking, five of its 28 thrusters of the Reaction Control System (RCS) failed. This caused an indefinite extension of the mission. The consecutive delays in the spacecraft’s return to Earth raised eyebrows over the safety of its crew.

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However, NASA provided some respite during the conference on Friday. Steve Stich, the manager of the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program, told reporters, “We talked about a 45-day limit, limited by the crew module batteries on Starliner, and we’re in the process of updating that limit.” “We’ve been looking at those batteries and their performance on orbit,” he added.

READ MORE: Is Boeing Starliner ‘stuck’ in space? Return to earth delayed for 3rd time, sparking concerns

Stich continued, “They’re getting recharged by station, and that risk hasn’t really changed. So the risk for the next 45 days is essentially the same as the first 45 days,” adding, “What we really are doing now is looking at the performance of the battery in flight. We don’t see any degradation in any of the cells where the batteries are,” according to Space.com

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