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23 Jun, 2024
1 min time to read

Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, who embarked on on the much-delayed first crewed flight of Boeing's Starliner craft, will stay on the International Space Station (ISS) longer than expected.

Originally scheduled to return on June 14, the flight was postponed until at least next month. NASA announced the postponement to allow more time to study problems encountered during the flight and to avoid conflicts with upcoming spacewalks. No specific return date has been set at this time.

The Starliner launched on June 5 and delivered Wilmore and Williams to the ISS a day later. Their stay on the ISS was expected to last about a week, but complications arose. During the flight, four helium leaks were discovered in the propulsion system, adding to an existing leak discovered before launch.

In addition, five of Starliner's 28 thrusters failed during the June 6 docking attempt, although Boeing was able to repair four of them. NASA also noted a problem with a valve in the service module that failed to close properly.

The return date had already been postponed multiple times, with the latest target being June 26. However, NASA has now decided to push the return until after the spacewalks scheduled for June 24 and July 2 are completed.