Lost in Space: How NASA astronauts could 'strand' on the ISS

9:46 16.06.2024 •

Boeing's latest potential scandal is out of this world – literally.

Its Starliner spacecraft – which carried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) last week – is unable to undock after several faults were found on the ship, writes ‘The Daily Mail’.

Teams have discovered five different leaks in the craft's propulsion system which would navigate the craft through space as it returns to Earth.

The astronauts were set to return on June 14, but that has been delayed until June 22 while Boeing and NASA scramble to fix issues, leaving the astronauts stranded until then.

Now, experts have said that NASA could be forced to launch a rescue mission that would be a highly embarrassing blow for the embattled Boeing which is dealing with spate of issues plaguing its commercial jets.

DailyMail.com has contacted NASA, but the agency refused to comment on if a possible rescue mission could take place.

And NASA awarded Boeing a $4.2 billion contract to build Starliner as a taxi for astronauts to the ISS.

Starliner spacecraft which carried two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) last week.

Boeing's Starliner can only stay docked on the ISS for a total of 45 days due to limited fuel on the orbit laboratory – it is unclear what NASA has planned if the time is exceeded.

Starliner was previously set to launch on May 6, but teams detected a valve leaking helium and scrubbed the mission.

Engineers suspected that the issue came from a defective rubber seal the size of a shirt button, and said that even if the leak worsens, it could be managed in flight - and set the next launch for June 1.

However, Starliner was again plagued with misfortunate when the capsule was automatically halted with minutes to go before liftoff by a computer-abort system.

The issues have sparked concerns among experts who fear the two astronauts could be stuck on the ISS until a rescue mission is sent

The issues sparked concern among a NASA contractor who urged the American space agency to 're-double safety checks and re-examine safety protocols to make sure the Starliner is safe before something catastrophic happens.'

Starliner took off at 10:52am ET from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida last week with the same leak that forced a scrub in May.

Hours after separating from the Atlas rocket, NASA revealed the capsule had sprung two more leaks.

A fourth leak was found after docking on June 6 and the most recent hit on June 10.

In addition to the helium leaks, four thrusters malfunctioned during the flight.


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