The Boeing spacecraft's journey into space: delays, technical problems and losses. Return of astronauts postponed to a later date

Astronauts Butch Wilmore, 61, and Sunita Williams, 58, will have to wait longer than expected to hug their families again. In fact, I'm on board the Starliner, Boeing's new spacecraft. And they set out on a journey with a difficult beginning and an even more problematic conclusion. The mission had in fact started on June 5, but the first two launches during the countdown ended in failures due to technical problems. They finally managed to reach the International Space Station at an altitude of 400 kilometers after a day of travel, with helium leaking from 3 valves and with 5 of the 28 engines operating intermittently. The return was initially planned after two weeks, but from June 13 it was postponed to the 18th, then to the 22nd. Even on this date, all the checks were not completed: Starliner's return to Earth was finally been postponed to a date. to be determined.


Republic recounts how mishaps on the outward journey convinced NASA and Boeing to exercise caution. “We're following our standard mission management process,” said Steve Stich, NASA's commercial flight program manager. “We let the data – he continued – guide our decisions regarding the management of small leaks from the helium system and the operation of the thrusters that we observed during docking”.

The mission

The two Starliner astronauts (and NASA veterans) will continue to be part of the crew of the International Space Station and the current Expedition 71 mission until at least July 2. The postponement, in itself, does not seem to pose a problem. According to technicians, in fact, stocks are abundant. The station's kitchen is full, the crew's schedule is free until August. The damage mainly concerns Boeing's image: the space mishaps are coupled with some problems with the company's planes. In January, for example, a new Alaska Airlines 737 Max lost a door in flight.

Boeing's problems

Sam Salehpour, an engineer with the US aerospace company, told a US Congressional committee that it was better not to talk about possible safety problems at the company. Anyone who does is ignored at best. At worst, threatened. The news of recent days not only worries Boeing, but also NASA. The American space agency in 2014 focused on two private companies for the construction of the spacecraft: SpaceX and Boeing. But if the first managed to reach the Space Station in 2020, with astronauts on board, the second seems to have difficulty.

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