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Starliner’s stay at ISS extended several days

NASA revealed yesterday that it has extended the time that Boeing’s Starliner capsule will remained docked at ISS several days, with undocking now set for June 18, 2024.

New station visitors Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, both veteran NASA astronauts, learned on Sunday they will orbit Earth until June 18 before returning home aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft. The extra days in space will allow teams more time to checkout Starliner’s systems and free up the Expedition crew’s schedule for more spacewalk preparations.

I also suspect that Boeing engineers wanted more time to analyze the data on Starliner’s attitude thrusters and why several failed to work on the flight up to the station. Once the spacecraft undocks with Wilmore and Williams, it will be esssential for those thrusters to work reliably to get both home safely. The capsule can return home even with some of the spacecraft’s 28 attitude thrusters non-functioning, but if a failure occurs at an unexpected moment the results could still be bad.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

8 comments

  • Robert Pratt

    Too bad they can’t Uber up a Dragon capsule for the trip home!

  • sippin_bourbon

    I do not think a Dragon-based rescue mission will happen.. but oh, would it be horribly embarrassing.
    Truthfully, I hope they resolve it. I would like to see it work, not to mention risk their lives unnecessarily.

  • How long has it been since a space disaster? I think we may be approaching, if not within, the “who was Sally Ride?” era.

    Hopefully, there is not too much pressure on the engineers and their managers to prevent them from making a good decision.

  • David Ross

    a failure occurs at an unexpected moment the results could still be bad

    “Imagine a Twinkie[tm] entering Earth’s thermosphere at 10 km/s, as its rockets give out and every surrounding molecule of sugar is bombarded with 4000 K plasma . . .”

  • GeorgeC

    We must have the capability to land a crew on land. The oceans are expensive to fully secure. So Starliner is a needed stop gap until the alternatives are ready. Nice to see all due caution. Also no such thing in probability as being due for an accident; outside of magical thinking. If they had to get use a Dragon to get back no big deal. Might even help Boeing stock price long term

  • Doubting Thomas

    I woke up this morning (6/12) to find an article on “Space News” that says a 5th “small” helium leak has been discovered aboard Starliner. Boeing spokesperson says there is no concern because there is 70 hours worth of helium remaining aboard and only 7 hours worth of helium is needed for undocking and reentry.

    For some reason, I am not reassured.

  • Edward

    Mark Sizer asked: “How long has it been since a space disaster?

    The Soviets had their disasters in space early in their space program, but the Americans have had even worse disasters more recently. However, the good news is that the ISS is a good harbor to ride out a problem with any spacecraft. ISS had become the backup for the Space Shuttle, in its last decade of operation.

    I don’t see this as a life-threatening problem, despite it shrining new leaks, but when you buy (or in this case rent) a new car, you expect it to work much better than Starliner is doing.

    They may desire examining the systems on orbit, because this behavior was not happening on the ground.

  • Mitch S.

    Is Starliner the Fisker Ocean of spacecraft?
    It basically works but it’s not quite a finished product…
    I don’t think Consumer Reports will be testing Starliner but here’s their take on the Ocean:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVF4I6weZdA

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