NASA says it has no plans right now to use SpaceX to rescue two stranded astronauts

    Boeing’s Starliner docks with the ISS. The spacecraft has experienced thruster malfunctions and helium leaks during its maiden voyage.


    NASA says there are no plans to send a SpaceX Dragon to rescue two astronauts stranded on the ISS. Issues with Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft have left Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore stuck on the space station.A SpaceX rescue mission would be humiliating for Boeing, which is competing with Musk’s rocket firm.

    NASA said it has no plans right now to send one of Elon Musk’s spacecrafts to rescue two astronauts stranded on the International Space Station.

    Speaking in a joint NASA-Boeing press briefing on Wednesday, NASA official Steve Stich said there had been “no discussion” about sending a SpaceX Dragon to pick up NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore, stranded on the ISS aboard Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

    One of SpaceX’s Dragon capsules is already docked at the ISS, having launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in March.

    “There’s really been no discussion with sending another Dragon to rescue the Starliner crew,” said Stich.

    However, he admitted the space agency could potentially turn to Elon Musk’s rocket firm if the situation worsened.

    “Certainly, we’ve dusted off a few of those things to look at relative to Starliner, just to be prepared in the event that we would have to use some of those kinds of things,” Stich said.

    “Again, our prime option is to return Butch and Suni on Starliner. We’ve declared Starliner safe to be an emergency return vehicle … we just want to understand the thrusters a little bit more before we commit to the final undock and return,” he added.

    Boeing’s Starliner, the company’s first commercial crewed spacecraft, has had a difficult first voyage.

    The spaceship, which launched in June after years of delays, was meant to spend a little over a week docked at the ISS — but a series of issues, including helium leaks and thruster malfunctions, have left its two passengers stuck in orbit for more than a month.

    NASA and Boeing have insisted that Starliner is safe and that it can still return to Earth in an emergency, but officials told journalists on Wednesday that the astronauts may not return home until mid-August at the latest as ground teams continue to analyze data from Starliner.

    The prospect of the astronauts being rescued by SpaceX would be humiliating for Boeing, which is competing with Elon Musk’s rocket company to transport astronauts to the ISS.

    The aviation giant has lagged behind SpaceX, which completed its first crewed mission to the ISS with its Dragon capsule in 2020.

    Musk has criticized Boeing, accusing it of having too many “non-technical managers” and pointing out Boeing CEO David Calhoun’s lack of engineering background.

    The issues with Starliner are a headache Boeing does not need right now, with the company facing growing scrutiny over its safety culture after a door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight.

    Boeing agreed to plead guilty this week over separate charges that it violated deferred prosecution agreements after two deadly 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019.

    Boeing and NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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