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Fri, Jul 12 | 1:03 pm

NASA Delays Boeing Starliner’s Return to Earth Again

by | Jun 22, 2024

June 22, 2024 – NASA has announced yet another delay in the return of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to Earth, citing ongoing technical issues and the need for further safety checks. This marks the latest in a series of postponements for the beleaguered spacecraft, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aimed at providing reliable transportation to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

The primary reason for the latest delay revolves around concerns over the spacecraft’s parachute system and its autonomous flight software. During pre-return inspections, engineers identified potential anomalies that necessitate additional analysis and testing. NASA and Boeing officials emphasized that while these issues are not catastrophic, ensuring the utmost safety for the crew and the integrity of the mission remains the top priority.

“We’re committed to flying when we’re ready, and we won’t compromise safety,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. “Our teams are working diligently to resolve these issues, and we appreciate the patience and dedication of everyone involved.”

This delay adds to a series of challenges Boeing has faced with the Starliner program. Initially scheduled for its maiden crewed flight in 2020, the spacecraft has encountered multiple setbacks, including an uncrewed test flight in December 2019 that failed to reach the ISS due to software glitches. Subsequent tests and reviews revealed additional flaws, leading to extensive troubleshooting and reworks.

The current mission, Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), which is uncrewed, has been crucial for demonstrating the Starliner’s capabilities. Successful completion of OFT-2 is essential before the spacecraft can carry astronauts. Despite these delays, NASA remains optimistic about the Starliner’s future role in the Commercial Crew Program, alongside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which has been successfully ferrying astronauts since May 2020.

Boeing has expressed its commitment to addressing the issues and completing the mission successfully. “Our team is thoroughly analyzing every aspect of the spacecraft and working closely with NASA to ensure all systems meet the highest standards,” said Mark Nappi, Vice President and Program Manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “Safety is paramount, and we will return to flight when all conditions are favorable.”

While the delay is disappointing for both NASA and Boeing, the agencies stress that it is a necessary step to ensure the Starliner’s reliability for future missions. The spacecraft’s return will be rescheduled once all safety concerns are adequately addressed, with a new date expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The repeated delays underscore the complexities and challenges inherent in developing new space transportation systems. As NASA and Boeing navigate these hurdles, the focus remains steadfast on achieving a safe and successful mission, ultimately contributing to the broader goals of human space exploration.

For ongoing updates and detailed information about the Starliner program, follow reports from sources such as NASA’s official website and Boeing’s Starliner page.




















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