REPORT: Elon Musk’s SpaceX May Rescue ‘Stranded’ Astronauts


SpaceX, the private aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, could play a critical role in rescuing two American astronauts who have been stranded aboard the International Space Station for days and without a return trip home on the horizon.

The two astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Sunita Williams, arrived at the ISS on June 6th while piloting the Boeing Starliner spacecraft for its maiden voyage but have essentially become stranded after the corporation and NASA identified issues with the capsule that appeared during flight, NBC News previously reported. Among the problems that occurred were the termination of five thrusters and a series of helium leaks, according to CNN. With no solution in sight, the idea of a SpaceX rescue mission has become more plausible, reports Business Today.

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An ad hoc mission by Musk’s astronauts would be performed aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft, a partially reusable rocket intended for trips to the ISS that can carry up to four individuals. The craft, which is also equipped to take off and dock without an astronaut on board, would be challenged by the lack of an available docking board at the ISS. The outlet reports that in order for a SpaceX team to reach Wilmore and Williams NASA would need to maneuver the Starliner spacecraft away from its current dock using a robotic arm. NASA continues to keep SpaceX in mind as part of a contingency plan, it adds.

The mechanics of orbital flight are some of the most challenging in the aerospace industry, and a rescue mission performed and coordinated by a government agency and two private companies using divergent technologies would be even trickier. A timeline on Starliner’s ability to stay docked complicates the situation: the craft’s Harmony module carries just enough fuel for 45 days; 18 have passed, giving the two astronauts another 27 days to complete a safe journey home.

Musk, a mercurial and innovative entrepreneur who maintains public fascination, has promised to help catapult humanity into new outposts across the solar system through his work at SpaceX. If he were to oversee the rescue of NASA astronauts, it would undoubtedly mark a stunning milestone in private space travel, one that his followers on the social media site X have played up.

“How terribly dangerous is Boeing’s Starliner? May need Space X to rescue its astronauts from ISS,” wrote someone with the X handle @NONbiasedly, the New York Post cited. “Boeing Starliner literally falling apart in space right now,” wrote Captain Coronado. “Deathtrap nearly killed the two astronauts during takeoff and trip to the ISS. Mismanagement at Boeing proving extremely dangerous!!”

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