July 20, 2024

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Astronauts stuck in orbit due to Starliner problems are confident Boeing will bring them home safely

Astronauts stuck in orbit due to Starliner problems are confident Boeing will bring them home safely

Two astronauts stranded in space for weeks longer than planned believe Boeing will be able to bring the men back to Earth safely even as the company's space capsule faces a series of problems.

NASA test pilots Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams have expressed an optimistic view of their current predicament that began last month when helium leaks and thruster failures were discovered on the new Starliner capsule they launched into space.

“I have a really good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft is going to get us home, no problem,” Williams said during the duo's first news conference from orbit on Wednesday.

Astronauts Suni Williams, left, and Butch Wilmaur hold a news conference aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, July 10. dad

“We are very confident” that he and his colleague will return safely after completing the space engine test on Earth, Wilmore added.

Williams and Wilmore were the first to board the Starliner when it launched in early June, but problems meant they didn't return home until late July.

The test flight was scheduled to return to Earth on June 14 after spending eight days in space.

The duo said they enjoyed the extra time they had in orbit and helping the station's crew of seven other astronauts.

“I'll reiterate that this is a test flight, we expected to find some things, so we're finding some things and correcting them and making changes and updates,” Williams said.

NASA and Boeing are trying to replicate Starliner rocket engine problems in a new unit at a rocket range in New Mexico this week — hoping it will be the key to their return.

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Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has been plagued by problems dating back to last month. dad

Five thrusters failed as the capsule approached the International Space Station on June 6 — a day after launch. So far, four of the five have been reactivated — which Wilmore said should be enough to get the spacecraft back to Earth.

“That’s the saying I heard, ‘Failure is not an option,’ and that’s why we’re still here,” Wilmohr said.

“We trust that the tests we run are the tests we need to get the right answers, and give us the data we need to come back.”

Boeing Vice President Mark Nabi insisted that in an emergency, the Starliner could now carry a crew. The company does not believe the engines are damaged, but “we want to fill in the blanks and do this test to confirm that.”

Boeing has also had problems with its commercial aircraft. Reuters

Officials said there was also plenty of helium left for the return trip despite the leaks.

Boeing had previously denied that the astronauts were “stranded” in space despite the unexpected problems surrounding the mission.

The company's commercial aircraft have also faced a long list of problems in recent months, including earlier this year when a door seal on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 blew out mid-flight.

Boeing is also expected to plead guilty to criminal fraud charges related to two fatal crashes of its jetliners in 2018 and 2019.

with mail wires