Starliner astronauts give update on mission delays with no return date set: 'Failure is not an option'

The Starliner astronauts gave an update from the International Space Station for the first time since leaving Earth.

During the call down to earth, they didn’t discuss a return date after weeks of delays. The mission was supposed to last about ten days on the test flight, but it has been more than a month as NASA and Boeing troubleshoot and collect data with the new spacecraft docked at the station. 

They’ve been there since early June, and NASA and Boeing announced on Wednesday that more tests are needed to determine whether Starliner is safe for return.

Veteran astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams still say they’re enjoying their extended stay in Zero-G.

"It feels good to float around. It feels good to be in space," said Suni Williams. 

Unfortunately, not everything’s good with their ride back to earth.

"Failure is not an option. That’s why we are staying here now," said Butch Wilmore. "We did have some degradation in our thrusters, and we know that. That’s why we’re staying; we’re going to test it. That’s what we do."

NASA and Boeing ran several tests after multiple thrusters failed during docking on June 6, and helium leaks were discovered on the Starliner.

"They’re working very hard on the ground to make sure we will be able to come home before too long," added Williams. 


Currently, teams are testing thrusters on the ground in New Mexico and trying to troubleshoot while preparing for worst-case situations during re-entry. 

Boeing says that so far, they have identified about 30 issues with the spacecraft and have only been able to resolve 15 of them.

"What we want to know is that the thrusters can perform," said Williams. 

That’s still in limbo, so NASA says the earliest the astronauts could come home is the end of July. 

The pilots will keep helping with science experiments and other tasks in the floating lab until they return.