NASA astronauts will remain on the space station longer to troubleshoot more malfunctions in the Boeing capsule.

two nasa astronauts It will stay longer on the International Space Station while engineers try to solve problems on board. Boeing’s new space capsule Which appeared on the trip there.

On Friday, NASA did not set a date for return until after tests on Earth were completed and said that the astronauts were safe.

“We are in no rush to get home,” said Steve Stich, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager.

Veteran NASA pilots Butch Wilmore and Sunny Williams It was launched aboard a Boeing Starliner capsule The spacecraft launched into an orbiting laboratory on June 5. This was Boeing’s first astronaut launch after years of delays and setbacks.

The test flight was expected to last a week or so, enough time for Wilmore and Williams to check out the capsule while it was docked at the station. But Capsule payment system problemswhich was used to maneuver the spacecraft, prompted NASA and Boeing to delay the return flight several times while they analyzed the problem.

They also wanted to avoid conflicting with spacewalks that astronauts are doing on the station. But a spacewalk this week was canceled after water leaked from an astronaut’s suit. The problem has not been resolved and a spacewalk planned for next week has been postponed.

As the Starliner approached the International Space Station a day after launch, last-minute failures of its thrusters nearly derailed the docking process. Five of the capsule’s 28 thrusters failed during docking; All but one engine was restarted.

Starliner already had a small helium leak when it launched into orbit and several more appeared during the flight. Helium is used to compress fuel in the thrusters. Boeing said this week that the two problems are not a concern for the return trip.

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In delaying the return of the astronauts, NASA and Boeing said they needed more time to collect information about the problem of the propellant and leakage during capsule docking. Both are located in the service module, a module attached to the capsule that burns up during reentry.

NASA initially said the Starliner could stay docked to the space station for up to 45 days due to battery limitations. Stitch said onboard testing showed that limit could be extended.

Officials said they would not set a return date while they conducted ground tests of the capsule’s thrusters in the New Mexico desert, which were expected to last a few weeks. They want to try to replicate the situation that occurred during the tackle.

“I want to make it very clear that Butch and Sonny are not stuck in space,” Stitch said, adding that the Starliner is designed for a mission of up to 210 days.

Astronauts could return to Earth in the Starliner in case of an emergency at the space station, Stitch said.

After the Space Shuttle fleet was retired, NASA turned astronaut flights over to private companies. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has made nine taxi flights for NASA since 2020. NASA plans to alternate between SpaceX and Boeing ferrying crews to and from the space station.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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