Astronauts Will Be Will Be Stuck in Space for at Least a Week Longer amid Boeing's Starliner Issues

"We want to give our teams a little bit more time to look at the data," said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's commercial crew program

Astronauts onboard the Boeing Starliner will remain in space a few days longer than expected.

Boeing announced in a press release on Tuesday, June 18, that Starliner is set to undock "no earlier than 10:10 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 25," and land at "about 4:51 a.m." on Wednesday, June 26, at New Mexico's White Sands Space Harbor.

The spacecraft, originally intended to return on Friday, June 14, after being launched on Wednesday, June 5, is being crewed by NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams.

Steve Stich, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said during a media teleconference that "Suni and Butch are doing well" and "anxious to understand every aspect of Starliner that we can."

<p>Joe Raedle/Getty </p> Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on May 06, 2024

Joe Raedle/Getty

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams walk out of the Operations and Checkout Building on May 06, 2024

Related: Dad of 2 Returns to Space as Boeing Successfully Launches Their First Crewed Flight

The delayed return comes after Boeing previously announced that Starliner encountered helium leaks and problems with the service module thrusters.

"We want to give our teams a little bit more time to look at the data, do some analysis, and make sure we're really ready to come home," said Stich, noting that "overall, Starliner is doing very well on orbit."

"You know this is a test flight we're taking our time to understand the vehicle and also understand the service module. The service module is a component that we don't get back, as you know," he added.

<p>Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images</p> Boeing Starliner launches on Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Richard Tribou/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Boeing Starliner launches on Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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"After we execute the deorbit burn, it burns up in the atmosphere, and so we're taking our time to understand that service module and the things that we've had happen relative to the helium leaks and also the thruster fail-offs at docking," Stich continued. "You know, safety is in most part of our mind as we approach uh the problems and look toward the return of Butch and Sunny."

According to NASA, Wilmore has participated in two spaceflights and is a retired Navy captain with honors that include five Air Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and two Navy Meritorious Service Medals.

<p>Joe Raedle/Getty</p> Boeing Starliner launch on June 05, 2024

Joe Raedle/Getty

Boeing Starliner launch on June 05, 2024

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Williams also holds many honors, currently ranking second on the list of total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut, with 50 hours and 40 minutes, per NASA.

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