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Helium leaks of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft heading to the International Space Station: What happened?

Helium leaks of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft heading to the International Space Station: What happened?

Credit: Boeing

Starlinerthe capsule I made BoeingI scored three Helium leak (Fortunately, there is no need to worry) during his stay First manned flight There are American astronauts on board Sunita Williams H Barry Wilmore Towards the International Space Station, where they will stay for a week. The “space taxi”, which has already made two unmanned flights in the past, departed on June 5 at 4.52 pm (Italian time) from Cape CanaveralIn Florida, it was launched by a rocket Atlas VIt will dock with the space station within the next few hours, after a failed attempt at 6:15 pm today due to propulsion problems. The capsule is currently positioned at a safe distance 200 metres From the International Space Station until the next docking opportunity.

There were two other launch attempts before the launch attempt on June 5: the first on May 6 and the second on June 1. However, everything was resolved and the Boeing capsule was able to leave for the mission Financing terrorism (Crew flight test), which has its purpose Capsule certificate For the human journey. Once certified, the Starliner will accompany the capsule Dragon crew From SpaceX are among the capsules manufactured by private companies licensed to transport astronauts.

Flying is an opportunity to perform Many tests On the operation of the spacecraft, incl Manual driving. In a first for Boeing, the Starliner’s flight was not without problems. The US space agency actually announced that it was there Three helium leaks Inside the spacecraft, which however It does not pose any danger For the astronauts and not to prejudice the flight plan. Helium is used to help the propellant reach the service module thrusters. The first leak was already known before departure, while the other two leaks were identified after launch. The problem was solved by simply closing two valves for transferring helium to the spacecraft. The leak identified prior to launch was likely caused by A Rubber gasket In the engine assembly.

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The Starliner is expected to return for landing June 14 (Unless an extension is scheduled in the next few days) in the desert between Arizona and New Mexico in the United States.