Boeing’s Starliner has 5 small leaks

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is experiencing five “small” helium leaks as its first astronaut-crewed flight test continues, the aerospace company and NASA said in an update on Monday.
While a major milestone was reached when Starliner successfully docked and delivered two NASA astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) on June 6, the leaks mark the latest of several hurdles faced during this mission, including previous helium leaks and a thruster issue.
Helium is used to pressurize the spacecraft’s reaction control system (RCS) maneuvering thrusters, allowing them to fire, according to Boeing.
That launch was scrubbed after a small helium leak was discovered in the service module, which contains support systems and instruments for operating the spacecraft.
Although it’s unclear how much helium is leaking, Boeing said that engineers have evaluated the helium supply and the leak rates, and have concluded that Starliner has enough helium for its return mission.
The astronauts only need seven hours of “free-flight time” to perform the end-of-mission maneuvers and Starliner currently has enough helium for 70 hours of free-flight time, Boeing said.
“While Starliner is docked, all the manifolds are closed per normal mission operations preventing helium loss from the tanks,” read the update from the aerospace company.
NASA has primarily been using SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to transport crew and cargo to the ISS.

NEGATIVE

As its first astronaut-crewed flight test continues, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is experiencing five “small” helium leaks, the aerospace company and NASA said in an update on Monday.

Although the June 6 docking and delivery of two NASA astronauts by Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) was a major milestone, the leaks are the most recent in a string of problems this mission has encountered, including earlier helium leaks and a thruster problem.

Boeing states that the reaction control system (RCS) maneuvering thrusters are pressurized with helium to enable them to fire.

The leaks resemble those found during the launch attempt of Starliner on May 25. A tiny helium leak in the service module, which houses the spacecraft’s instruments and support systems, forced the cancellation of that launch.

Boeing stated that its engineers have assessed the helium supply and the leak rates, and they have determined that Starliner has adequate helium for its return mission, despite the fact that it is unclear how much helium is leaking.

Boeing stated that Starliner currently has enough helium for 70 hours of free-flight time, and the astronauts only need seven hours of “free-flight time” to complete the end-of-mission maneuvers.

The aerospace company’s update stated, “All the manifolds are closed per normal mission operations preventing helium loss from the tanks while Starliner is docked.”.

Additionally, engineers are investigating an improperly closed valve on the RCS. During a check on Sunday, the update stated that every other valve cycled normally.

Starliner is still being tested by astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams as part of the data gathering needed for a possible NASA certification to launch crewed missions to the ISS on a regular basis. NASA has been delivering personnel and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) mainly using SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.

According to Boeing, tests include verifying that Starliner can sustain a crew on its own air, assessing the seats within, and testing the service module’s batteries. They also involve testing the spacecraft’s ability to restart when placed in minimal power mode during ISS missions.

The plan was for Wilmore and Williams to land back on Earth on Friday, June 14. The mission has been extended until June 18, though, subject to weather conditions and Starliner’s readiness.

“The return date for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test has been set by the @NASA and @BoeingSpace teams to be Tuesday, June 18 at the latest,” officials from the International Space Station stated in a post on social media on Sunday. “On Thursday, June 13, while engineers finish up Starliner system checkouts, the crew will be able to conduct a spacewalk thanks to the extra time in orbit. “.

NASA announced on Monday that although two different astronauts will conduct the spacewalk, the additional days on board will also enable future spacewalk preparations.

The current mission’s last stage will involve Starliner undocking from the ISS and modifying its orbit to move away from the space station before reentering Earth’s atmosphere and landing in the southwestern United States because Starliner’s launch and ISS docking have been completed. s.

This report was written in part by Gina Sunseri of ABC News.

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