Astronauts Sunita Williams and Butch Wilmore Are Not Returning Anytime Soon; NASA Reiterates 'They Are Not Stranded'

Boeing, has not yet scheduled a return date for the capsule "Calypso."

Sunita "Suni" Williams and Butch Wilmore were originally set for a brief mission on the Boeing Starliner spacecraft. However, their stay in space has now extended to over three weeks, with no immediate plans for their return.

NASA has announced that Williams and Wilmore's mission could last for several months. The agency, along with Boeing, has not yet scheduled a return date for the capsule "Calypso." This mission marks the first time the Boeing Starliner is carrying astronauts.

NASA astronauts

Despite helium leaks and thruster issues during the journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in June, NASA assures that the astronauts are safe and not stranded. The spacecraft remains docked at the ISS, with NASA focusing on testing the thruster technology at White Sands, New Mexico, before bringing the Starliner back to Earth.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager, Steve Stich, stated that the testing could take a few weeks. The agency is not setting a specific return date until the tests are complete. Stich emphasized that the Starliner can return whenever necessary.

The delay is due to further testing aimed at gathering more data on the spacecraft's performance. NASA is considering extending the mission length from 45 days to 90 days to allow for thorough testing. Mark Nappi, Boeing's Commercial Crew Program manager, reiterated that the crew is safe and not at increased risk during this extended mission.

The Starliner has previously conducted two uncrewed spaceflights but has faced more significant setbacks compared to SpaceX's Dragon.