NASA again delays Boeing Starliner's return to Earth, new target date still undetermined

NASA again delays Boeing Starliner’s return to Earth, new target date still undetermined

NASA and Boeing managers have again decided to extend the Starliner crew capsule’s stay at the International Space Station, passing up a June 26 re-entry to allow more time for analysis and testing to make sure helium leaks and thruster failures are fully understood, officials said late Friday.

NASA plans to hold a formal re-entry readiness review before setting a new landing target date. Given the on-going analysis, the Starliner’s undocking and return to Earth likely will slip past two already planned space station spacewalks on Monday and July 2.

In the meantime, Starliner commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore and co-pilot Sunita Williams are still cleared to undock and fly home at any time if a station malfunction or other issue crops up that requires a quick departure. As such, officials say they are not stranded in orbit.

Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule on final approach to the International Space Station on June 6.


“We are taking our time and following our standard mission management team process,” Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement. “We are letting the data drive our decision-making relative to managing the small helium system leaks and thruster performance we observed during rendezvous and docking.”