The astronauts, who are planned to stay on the space station for 8 days, will be stranded in space for almost a month at the beginning of July. It was reported that the Starliner spacecraft could not leave its place due to various malfunctions on board.

MAY RETURN ON 2 JULY AT THE EARLIEST

NASA announced on Friday that the Boeing Starliner's return to Earth scheduled for next week has been postponed again.

Starliner will remain tethered to the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2 July, about a week later than the previously stated target date of 26 June.

The extra time will give Boeing and NASA more time to assess various issues that have arisen with the vehicle. 

LAUNCHED ON 5 JUNE

Starliner's mission, known as Crew Flight Test, sent NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft was launched on 5 June and reached the orbiting station a day later.

SUCCESSIVE MALFUNCTIONS

However, this launch was not entirely trouble-free. The Starliner experienced problems with five of its 28 reaction control system thrusters. Four of these were eventually reactivated.

In addition, team members noticed five small helium leaks in Starliner's propulsion system. One of these was detected before launch but was not considered a serious problem.

Four others appeared after launch from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V capsule rocket.

POSTPONED 2 TIMES

Starliner was originally scheduled to spend about a week on the space station.

However, on 9 June, NASA and Boeing announced that the return date had been postponed to 18 June at the earliest to allow more time for the vehicle's controls.

SOLUTION SOUGHT FOR MALFUNCTIONS

The scheduled departure date of Tuesday 18 June was then moved back to 26 June. The rationale was similar: The extra time would allow a more detailed assessment of helium leaks and propellant problems.

ELON MUSK KNOWS NO RIVAL

SpaceX already operates such flights with the Crew Dragon capsule; Elon Musk's company is in the midst of its eighth long-duration crewed mission.

New technology in Japan: Humanoid robots to maintain railways! New technology in Japan: Humanoid robots to maintain railways!

"NO TIME CONSTRAINTS"

"There is no shortage of time for the crew to leave the station as the station has abundant resources and the station's schedule is relatively available until mid-August," NASA officials said in Friday's update.

Editor: David Goodman