Boeing Starliner Problems Continue to Delay Astronauts' Return

    Boeing Starliner Problems Continue to Delay Astronauts' Return
    Above: Boeing's Starliner spacecraft atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 during NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test on June 05, 2024, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Image copyright: NASA/Handout/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The return to Earth of astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore from the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed until at least June 26 — a delay from the previously targeted dates of June 18 and June 22.

    • Williams and Wilmore arrived on the ISS on June 6 via the Boeing Starliner. But the Starliner has endured several mechanical problems, including problems with five thrusters and four helium leaks during its trip. A fifth helium leak has since been discovered.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Boeing continues to endure numerous high-profile setbacks. If its much-publicized problems with its commercial jets weren't enough of an issue, now the company has a scandal playing out in outer space. Issues with the Starliner may require NASA to conduct a rare rescue mission at a time when the US is trying to prove it can keep up in the international space race. Boeing may need to be put in a timeout to assess multiple shortcomings.

    Narrative B

    There's no reason to be overanxious over Starliner's issues or the astronauts' plight. This was billed as a test mission all along, so complications were expected and everyone was prepared to learn new things about the spacecraft. Now the glitches get to be worked out, and Williams and Wilmore may even get to perform a spacewalk that was previously postponed.

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