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Boeing Spacecraft Has Concerning Leaks As American Astronauts Still On Board

Boeing's Starliner capsule, atop an Atlas V rocket, lifts off from launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 Wednesday, June 5, 2024, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are headed to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, currently in its first crewed test to the International Space Station, is experiencing helium leaks ahead of docking Thursday afternoon.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday at 10:52 a.m., with NASA astronauts Suni Williams, 58, and Barry “Butch” Wilmore, 61, on board.

“Teams have identified three helium leaks on the spacecraft,” NASA’s Johnson Space Center tweeted just over 12 hours after liftoff. “One of these was previously discussed before flight along with a management plan. The other two are new since the spacecraft arrived on orbit. Two of the affected helium valves have been closed and the spacecraft remains stable.”

Despite the leaks, Starliner “remains on track for a docking at 12:15 pm ET” Thursday, the X account for the ISS stated. NASA and Boeing teams “will meet to review data prior to rendezvous and docking operations on the orbital outpost.”

After docking, Wilmore and Williams will be at the ISS for about a week, testing “the Starliner spacecraft and its subsystems before NASA works to complete final certification of the transportation system for rotational missions to the orbiting laboratory as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program,” NASA said.

Wednesday’s launch was the third try in just under a month to get the spacecraft safely in the atmosphere.

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