July 20th, 2024

Astronauts confident Boeing space capsule can safely return them to Earth, despite failures

By Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press on July 10, 2024.

In this image from video provided by NASA, astronauts Suni Williams, left, and Butch Wilmore give a news conference aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Two astronauts who should have been back on Earth weeks ago said Wednesday that they’re confident that Boeing’s space capsule can return them safely, despite breakdowns.

NASA test pilots Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams launched aboard Boeing’s new Starliner capsule early last month, the first people to ride it. Leaks and thruster failures almost derailed their arrival at the International Space Station, and has kept them there much longer than planned.

In their first news conference from orbit, they said they expect to return once thruster testing is complete here on Earth. They said they’re not complaining about getting extra time in orbit, and are enjoying helping the station crew.

“I have a real good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will bring us home, no problem,” Williams told reporters.

The two rocketed into orbit on June 5 on the test flight, which was originally supposed to last eight days.

NASA ordered up the Starliner and SpaceX Dragon capsules a decade ago for astronaut flights to and from the space station, paying each company billions of dollars. SpaceX’s first taxi flight with astronauts was in 2020. Boeing’s first crew flight was repeatedly delayed because of software and other issues.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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