Still no return date set for Boeing’s Starliner crew from space station

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NASA signaled Friday that a return date for Boeing’s Starliner crew from the International Space Station had still not been set, as the two astronauts continue testing and working on issues within the capsule.

“We’re not in any rush to come home,” NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stich said, The Associated Press reported.

NASA said in a statement Friday that is working with Boeing to continue evaluating the Starliner’s performance before “returning to Earth from the orbiting lab.”

Test pilots Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore launched in Boeing’s Starliner capsule June 5, after a series of delays caused by leaks and thruster issues. The event marked the first time the company launched a crewed mission to space.

While attempting to dock on the space station earlier this month, five out of 28 thrusters went down. Once the craft finally docked, the mission was set to last about a week, but the return date is now unknown as the astronauts continue testing on the craft.

Officials said they won’t set a date until after they complete ground tests of capsule thrusters in the New Mexico desert. They want to replicate what happened during docking but it may take a few weeks, per the AP.

“I want to make it very clear that Butch and Suni are not stranded in space,” Stich said.

If there was an emergency, the astronauts could use the capsule to get away.

The agency previously indicated that they were evaluating dates after the already planned space walks on June 24 and July 2. Both spacewalks have since been delayed, the AP reported.

The mission was meant to be a success story for Boeing, which has experienced many setbacks and negative attention recently amid investigations into its safety culture following a midair blowout on one of its jets earlier this year.

The company is looking to have regular flights to and from the International Space Station in order to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, which were both given approval for commercial space flights in 2014.

The Associated Press contributed.

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