Malfunctioning Thrusters Delay Starliner’s Arrival at ISS

Starliner ISS arrival delayed by malfunctioning thrusters.

Boeing Co. and NASA faced a setback as malfunctioning thrusters on the Starliner spacecraft disrupted its journey to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday. The malfunction occurred as the vessel approached the ISS, forcing a delay in its planned arrival.

Thruster Troubles

As Starliner and its crew of two astronauts hovered approximately 200 meters away from the ISS, live mission webcasts revealed the malfunctioning thrusters, crucial for navigation in space. While two thrusters were successfully reactivated, four had ceased operation during the flight, prompting concerns among mission controllers.

Starliner’s thruster malfunction near ISS raises concerns for crew safety and mission success, Barron’s Print Edition said.

Docking Rescheduled

Originally scheduled to dock at 12:15 p.m. New York time, the docking was rescheduled for the subsequent window at 1:33 p.m. NASA announced that Boeing could proceed with docking during this new timeframe, with efforts underway to restore functionality to the malfunctioning thrusters before then.

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Maiden Voyage Mission

On Wednesday, Starliner launched atop an Atlas V rocket, beginning its maiden voyage with NASA veterans Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore. This mission is crucial, evaluating Starliner’s capability to safely transport astronauts to and from space. It marks a significant milestone in commercial space travel.

Testing Crucial Milestone

Docking with the ISS is a pivotal milestone for Starliner, especially after an unsuccessful initial mission in 2019. Boeing had to conduct two unmanned trial flights following the setback, addressing various technical challenges such as corroded valves, parachute issues, and a helium leak that delayed this launch.

Astronaut Objectives

Williams and Wilmore’s ISS mission involves unloading cargo and practicing Starliner procedures over about a week. Afterward, they’ll assess the spacecraft’s performance during reentry into Earth’s atmosphere before returning.

Implications for NASA

Data from this flight will inform NASA’s decision on Starliner’s readiness for routine astronaut transportation. This complements SpaceX’s Crew Dragon missions. Boeing may share responsibility with SpaceX in ferrying astronauts for extended stays.

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