NASA is closely monitoring the Boeing Starliner spacecraft during its first astronaut mission. The spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, was launched on June 5 for the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the International Space Station (ISS). Originally planned to stay docked for a week, the mission has been extended until at least June 18 to allow for preparations for a spacewalk and further checkouts on the spacecraft.

Engineers are currently focusing on potential helium leaks on the Starliner, with five leaks detected so far. Despite this, NASA officials have confirmed that there is enough helium supply for the return trip from the station. The spacecraft also experienced issues with its reaction control system thrusters, with one thruster remaining out of commission.

The astronauts have been evaluating their spacesuits and seats for fit and functionality, as well as conducting safety checks aboard the capsule. The mission team plans to fire all thrusters after undocking to gather additional data before the hardware is expended. The return date for the mission is set as “no earlier than” June 18, with the spacecraft landing in the southwestern U.S. upon return.

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