WASHINGTON: A pair of Nasa astronauts left stranded on the International Space Station without a clear departure date expressed confidence on Wednesday that their Boeing Starliner spaceship would soon bring them home.

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams blasted off on June 5 following years of delays and safety scares affecting Starliner, as well as two aborted launch attempts that came as the two were strapped in and ready to go.

They docked the following day for what was meant to be roughly a week-long stay, but their return has been pushed back because of thruster malfunctions and helium leaks that came to light during the journey.

Asked during a live press call from the orbital outpost whether they still had faith in the Starliner team and the spaceship, mission commander Wilmore replied “We’re absolutely confident.” “I have a real good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will bring us home, no problem,” added Williams.

She said they were continuing to enjoy their time aboard the ISS, performing tasks like changing out the pump on a machine that processes urine back into drinking water, and carrying out science experiments such as gene sequencing in the microgravity environment.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2024

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