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Astronaut Sunita Williams’ Return Delayed Due to Starliner Issues

Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, along with Butch Wilmore, blasted off to space on June 5th aboard the Boeing Starliner spacecraft. They are currently stationed on the International Space Station (ISS), where a team of astronauts always resides to conduct space experiments. However, their return to Earth is facing a delay due to technical issues with the Starliner.

Helium Leaks and Thruster Problems Plague Starliner

The Starliner successfully docked with the ISS on June 6th after its launch. However, it encountered problems during its journey, experiencing helium leaks and thruster malfunctions on four separate occasions.

First Crewed Mission for Starliner

This marks the first time the Boeing Starliner has carried astronauts to the ISS. While the spacecraft has completed previous flights, these were unmanned. These technical issues encountered on the very first crewed mission are currently under investigation.

Delayed Return for Williams and Wilmore

These technical problems have caused a delay in Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore’s return to Earth. While a spacewalk for them is still scheduled for June 24th, their return is now expected for June 26th at the earliest. Prioritizing astronaut safety, NASA is unwilling to take any risks and will only clear Starliner for re-entry once the technical problems are resolved.

Starliner’s Extended Mission Capability

The Starliner is designed for missions lasting up to six months, while the current mission is planned for a maximum of 45 days. This extended mission capability provides NASA with some buffer time in case the return on June 26th proves impossible.

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