‘We’re on a Good Path': Starliner Astronauts Are ‘Not Stranded’ in Space, NASA Experts Say

NASA insists that two veteran astronauts are “not stranded” after running into mechanical issues onboard the Boeing Starliner that took them to space

Published Time: 02.07.2024 - 20:31:04 Modified Time: 02.07.2024 - 20:31:04

NASA insists that two veteran astronauts are “not stranded” after running into mechanical issues onboard the Boeing Starliner that took them to space.

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams have now been in space for three weeks after their journey, which began on June 5, was sidetracked when the Starliner experienced the mechanical problems while the crew was testing it out in space.

Despite concerns about the astronauts’ well-being, NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stich said the two astronauts “are not stranded in space,” according to ABC News and Forbes.

However, Stich said there is currently no targeted date for the astronauts return, per CBS News.

"We're not going to target a specific date until we get that testing completed,” he continued, later adding, “I think we’re on a good path.”

Helium leaks and thruster problems are reportedly the source of the delay, as crews back on Earth work to resolve the ongoing issues.

Boeing program manager Mark Nappi claimed the Starliner has not experienced any new issues as they work to resolve the old ones, and believes “we can return with Starliner at any time.”

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“We understand these issues for safe return,” said Nappi, per ABC News. “We don't understand these issues well enough to fix them permanently."

Wilmore and Williams were originally expected to return to Earth on June 14. The trip was originally extended to June 18, but now it is unclear when the astronauts will return home.

Thruster testing in New Mexico is expected to take a couple of weeks, Stich said, according to ABC News.

"So essentially, it's to complete the testing, complete the fault tree, bring that analysis into (the mission management team), and then have an agency-level review,” Stich explained, per CBS News. “And then we'll lay out the rest of the plan from undock to landing.”

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Nappi said it has been “pretty painful to read the things that are out there” regarding the situation surrounding the Starliner. He believes the test flight has been “really good” despite “being viewed rather negatively.” 

“We're not stuck on the ISS," Nappi reiterated. “The crew is not in any danger, and there's no increased risk when we decide to bring Suni and Butch back to Earth."

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