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Business News/ Science / News/  Sunita Williams stranded in space after NASA delays Boeing Starliner's return to Earth indefinitely, know why
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Sunita Williams stranded in space after NASA delays Boeing Starliner's return to Earth indefinitely, know why

Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams will stay in space longer as NASA delays Starliner's return, raising questions about timing as Boeing's crewed mission faces technical issues with thrusters and leaks.

NASA has further postponed the Boeing Starliner's return to Earth (PTI)Premium
NASA has further postponed the Boeing Starliner's return to Earth (PTI)

Indian-origin Sunita Williams is likely to stay in space for a few more days, as NASA has further postponed the Boeing Starliner's return to Earth from the International Space Station. This development follows the US space agency's decision to take more time to review the spacecraft's technical issues.

This time, NASA didn't give any new date for the spacecraft's return flight carrying astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore. The absence of any announcement on the next date has raised questions about the timing of the return of the two astronauts on Boeing.

What's causing the delay in Sunita Williams's return spaceflight?

Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore's return spaceflight was initially scheduled for June 14, and was later postponed to June 26. However, scientists are now planning for future possibilities of space return due to the station's two planned spacewalks on June 24 and July 2.

"Mission managers are evaluating future return opportunities following the station’s two planned spacewalks on June 24 and July 2," Reuters quoted NASA's statement.

"We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process," said Steve Stich, NASA's commercial crew program manager.

Steve Stich also informed that Starliner is performing well in orbit and more time in space would yield “valuable insight" into system upgrades for future missions.

About Boeing Starliner's test flight

The previous two test flights of Boeing Starliners carried out without humans on board encountered five failures of its 28 maneuvering thrusters. In addition to this, there were reports of five leaks of helium gas and a slow-moving propellant valve, according to a Reuters report.

What is the next date of return space flight?

So far, NASA hasn't announced any other date of Sunita Williams's space flight. There are high chances that it would take longer for her to come back to Earch, as issues with Starliner spacecraft and additional tests run by NASA and Boeing may cause further delay. According to Reuters report, Boeing has invested nearly $1.5 billion in cost overruns. The amount is beyond its $4.5 billion NASA-development contract. The successful completion of the spaceflight would unlock Boeing's journey to become the second company to manufacture spacecraft capable of ferrying astronauts with the ISS. AS of now, only Elon Musk-led SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft are ISS primary ride since 2020.

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Published: 23 Jun 2024, 08:11 PM IST
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