NASA’s Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore ‘enjoying time’ in Boeing’s Starliner despite delay: ‘We are confident…’

NASA’s Sunita Williams, Butch Wilmore ‘enjoying time’ in Boeing’s Starliner despite delay: ‘We are confident…’

NASA’s astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore are proving they can make the best of an unexpected situation. Despite their return aboard Boeing’s Starliner being delayed, the veteran crewmates are reportedly enjoying their extended time on the International Space Station. The two engaged in a brief conversation and exuded confidence when reporters questioned them during a press conference streamed live by CBS on July 10.

In this photo provided by NASA, Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Butch Wilmore, left, and Suni Williams pose for a portrait inside the vestibule between the forward port on the International Space Station’s Harmony module and Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft on June 13, 2024. (NASA via AP)(AP)

NASA astronauts having ‘great time’ while stuck in Boeing Starliner

The two NASA veterans, who have previously commanded successful missions for the organisation, embarked on a journey on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station last month. Yet, the spacecraft’s return to Earth has been continually postponed because of a string of thruster malfunctions and leaks of helium. Despite these challenges, the astronauts remained optimistic during a recent conversation, declaring their confidence and assurance that the Starliner would securely return them home.

During the call, Williams expressed, “I have a real good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will bring us home, no problem.” Meanwhile, Wilmore, who has participated in two previous spaceflights, emphasized, “we’re absolutely confident,” highlighting that despite the challenges on the journey to the station, Starliner was “truly impressive.”

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The pair expressed their plan to stay up there for a few more weeks because returning now would mean missing out on crucial data they aim to gather. They were initially slated to spend just 10 days. Meanwhile, NASA has decided against using the fifth thruster for the return journey. The spacecraft is equipped with a total of 28 thrusters on the service module.

“Butch and I have been up here before, and it feels like coming back home. It feels good to float around. It feels good to be in space and work up here with the International Space Station team. So, yeah, it’s great to be up here,” William said.

Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore acknowledge Starliner’s problem

During the talk, Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore didn’t shy away from the spacecraft’s issues. During their approach to the International Space Station in June, Wilmore, who took over manual control due to malfunctions, noticed a clear “degradation” in thrust. He acknowledges they were initially unaware of the cause, as the problems were just starting to pop up, but the reduced performance was evident.

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The duo even addressed the helium leaks and other problems currently under NASA’s observation and speculated it to be the reason for the delay, “We know that and that’s why we’re staying because we’re going to test it. That’s what we do. That’s what we do in this business. We’re going to get the data that we need to help inform our decisions, so we make the right decisions. And that’s why we feel confident.”

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