Monday, June 10, 2024

NASA and Boeing Extend Starliner's Mission

When Starliner docked at the ISS on last Thursday, June 6, they expected to spend a week there, departing on June 13. NASA and Boeing have joined in extending their mission to NET (No Earlier Than) next Tuesday, June 18th.

"...The additional time in orbit will allow the crew to perform a spacewalk on Thursday, June 13, while engineers complete #Starliner systems checkouts," NASA ISS officials said on Sunday (June 9) via X.

It took a long time for Starliner to get to this mission, with two unmanned missions instead of one and then numerous problems with the spacecraft that had to be addressed before it was deemed ready to fly. The mission has not been problem-free, with additional small helium leaks and a few misbehaving thrusters, such that the first attempt to dock failed and it took an additional hour or so before they successfully docked at the ISS. Mission planners and crew consider these problems to be minor, and say they've been dealt with successfully so far. 

Among their first tasks after coming aboard the station was to bring a new urine processing pump for a replacement, NASA officials said. The urine processor was a late addition to Starliner's cargo manifest after the unit on the space station failed earlier this month.

If all goes well, Starliner will be certified to fly six-month astronaut missions to and from the ISS for NASA, as SpaceX currently does with Crew Dragon. The majority of the crew on the station is the Crew 8 mission, launched by SpaceX in March

The seven Expedition 71 crew members gather with the two Crew Flight Test members for a team portrait aboard the space station. In the front from left are, Suni Williams, Oleg Kononenko, and Butch Wilmore. Second row from left are, Alexander Grebenkin, Tracy C. Dyson, and Mike Barratt. In the back are, Nikolai Chub, Jeanette Epps, and Matthew Dominick. Credit: NASA TV


  1. So if the brakes and steering on my car malfunction it's "minor"?

    1. I guess the analogy would be yes, as long as you're still on a road.

  2. Who was the last to have the metric allen wrench set?

  3. So NASA wants THREE more days of testing.

    Wow. This might be as bad as the heatshield damage they hid for a year turned out to be.

    Generally the first response to a leaking system is not "hey, why don't we leave it in a vacuum for another 72 hours and see what happens?"

  4. Perhaps the spacewalk toolkit will include some duct tape, bailing wire and a couple of hose clamps?

  5. Welcome to the newest permanent module to the ISS!

  6. So, let's leave the capsule up there for more time to allow ALL the Helium to leak out...
    Then we can see how soon SpaceX can launch a rescue capsule...

  7. I guess everyone has heard they confirmed a New! Fifth! Helium leak yesterday.

    "NASA said June 10 that engineers estimate that Starliner has enough helium to support 70 hours of flight operations, while only seven hours is needed for Starliner to return to Earth."