The Boeing Starliner plane is now suffering from 5 leaks while parked outside the International Space Station

after Docking not specified On the International Space Station last week, Boeing was able to deliver a pair of NASA astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. The stressful Starliner saga continues as the crew capsule develops more leaks in its service module. NASA is currently evaluating its ability to return the duo to Earth.

In an update shared on Monday, NASA open Starliner teams are evaluating the impact of five helium leaks on the remainder of the mission. “While Starliner is docked, all hatches are closed in normal mission operations to prevent loss of helium from the tanks,” the space agency wrote.

If you’ve been tracking, it’s been there Three leaks on the Starliner spacecraft Last time we checked. Starliner teams identified two new leaks in the spacecraft after its launch on June 5, in addition to… Helium leak discovered before takeoff. The team took some time to evaluate the problem before launching the capsule, but ultimately Boeing and NASA decided to proceed with flying the crew aboard the leaky Starliner spacecraft without fixing the problem.

The spacecraft consists of a reusable crew capsule and an expendable service module. Helium is used in spacecraft propulsion systems to allow the thrusters to fire without being flammable or toxic. “We can deal with this particular leak if the leakage rate increases up to 100 times,” Steve Stich, director of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said during a press conference before Starliner’s launch.

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Well, it’s getting there. Although leaks suggest there is a larger problem with the Starliner’s propulsion system, NASA remains confident in its commercial partner and downplays the flaws in the spacecraft. “Engineers evaluated the helium supply based on current leak rates and determined that the Starliner had ample margin to support the return flight from the station,” NASA wrote in its update. “Only seven hours of free flight time are required to perform a normal end of mission, and the Starliner currently has enough helium in its tanks to support 70 hours of free flight activity after separation.”

The “natural end of the mission” is key here, as the Starliner had difficulty docking with the International Space Station. Starliner missed its first docking opportunity at 12:15 PM ET due to technical issues, leading NASA to target another docking window an hour later. Five of the spacecraft’s thrusters malfunctioned during its approach, four of which were later recovered. the The capsule finally docked With the International Space Station at 1:34 PM ET on June 6.

While parked outside the International Space Station, engineers are also evaluating an RCS oxidizer isolation valve in the service module that was not closed properly, according to a recent NASA update. The RCS, or Reaction Control System, uses the impellers to control attitude and direction, while the oxidizer isolation valve regulates the flow of oxidizer, which is necessary for burning fuel in the impellers. Mission managers continue to work through the return plan, which includes assessments of the flight rationale, fault tolerance, and potential operational mitigations for the remainder of the flight, the space agency wrote.

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Starliner is scheduled to detach from the orbiting space station no later than June 18 Manned flight test It is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and is intended to transport crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS). $4.3 billion Contracting with the space agency. NASA’s other commercial partner, SpaceX, has so far launched eight crews to the space station.

The goal of the spacecraft’s first crewed flight was to make regular flights to the International Space Station, but NASA may require the Starliner to undergo some repairs before the capsule is approved for normal operation.

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