Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore in no rush to come home: NASA

Denying that the two astronauts are stranded on ISS, NASA officials say they are using “the luxury of time” to learn more

File images of Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore
File images of Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore


Denying that NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore are stranded on the International Space Station (ISS), the US space agency and Boeing officials have said they are currently “not in any rush to come home”.

Amid multiple reports claiming that the two astronauts, sent to the orbiting laboratory onboard a Boeing Starliner spacecraft earlier this month, are stranded after suspected helium leaks, NASA and Boeing officials said they are using “the luxury of time” to learn more before the astronauts return to Earth.

“I want to make it real clear that we’re not in any rush to come home,” Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew programme manager, was quoted as saying during a press conference late on Friday, 28 June (US time). “The station is a nice, safe place to stop and take our time to work through the vehicle and make sure we’re ready to come home."

NASA and Boeing continue to evaluate Starliner’s propulsion system performance before returning to Earth from the orbiting lab.

The US space agency said they are now targeting the end of July for the next spacewalk outside the space station.

This change allows teams on the ground to continue to troubleshoot and understand the water leak in the service and cooling umbilical unit that forced an early end to a spacewalk on 24 June.

Originally slated to spend eight days on the orbiting space laboratory, the astronauts reached the ISS on 6 June.

According to NASA, the spacecraft requires seven hours of time to perform a normal end-of-mission and it "currently has enough helium left in its tanks to support 70 hours of free flight activity following undocking."

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