Astronauts Say They're Having a 'Great Time' and Remain Confident Boeing Starliner 'Will Bring Us Home'

As technical issues continue to delay their return, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams insisted they weren't complaining about the extra time in space

<p>MIGUEL J. RODRIGUEZ CARRILLO/AFP via Getty Images</p> Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams


Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams expressed confidence in their Boeing Starliner's ability to bring them home amid ongoing delays.

The two opened up about their hopes for the future of the expedition while answering questions from reporters during an International Space Station press conference streamed live by CBS News on Wednesday, July 10.

Williams, 58, said she has "a real good feeling in my heart that the spacecraft will bring us home, no problem," during the call.

"But like Butch said, we're learning now to optimize our specific situation and make sure that we know everything about it," the veteran astronaut continued, noting that if they "just came home" now they would lose some of the data they intend to obtain.

"I have confidence. Butch has confidence. We're here on the space station with our safe haven of Starliner," she added.

<p>Joe Raedle/Getty </p> Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams

Joe Raedle/Getty

Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams

Later on in the conference, Williams stated that they are having a "great time" in space.

"Butch and I have been up here before, and it feels like coming back home. It feels good to float around. It feels good to be in space and work up here with the International Space Station team. So, yeah, it's great to be up here," she said. “I'm not complaining, Butch isn't complaining, that we're here for a couple extra weeks."

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In the latter portion of the conference, Wilmore, 61, echoed his partner's optimism. "That mantra you’ve heard, failure is not an option. And that’s why we’re staying here now," he said.

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The astronaut acknowledged the speculation that helium leaks and thruster problems may be the source of the delay, saying, "We know that and that's why we're staying because we're going to test it. That's what we do. That's what we do in this business. We're going to get the data that we need to help inform our decisions, so we make the right decisions. And that's why we feel confident."

The spacecraft successfully launched on June 5 at 10:52 a.m. local time from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida's Space Coast. The flight marks the sixth inaugural journey of a crewed spacecraft in U.S. history, NASA said in a May press conference.

<p>NICHOLAS KAMM/NASA/AFP via Getty</p> Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore pose with the crew of the International Space Station


Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore pose with the crew of the International Space Station

Wilmore and Williams were originally expected to return to Earth on June 14. The trip was extended to June 18, but now officials say the "earliest they could return may be the end of July," per AP News.

On July 2, NASA’s commercial crew program manager Steve Stich said the two astronauts "are not stranded in space" when concerns were raised about their return, according to ABC News.

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At the time, Stich said there is currently no targeted date for the astronauts return, per CBS News. "We're not going to target a specific date until we get that testing completed,” he said, later adding, "I think we’re on a good path."

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Boeing program manager Mark Nappi previously told CBS News that the Starliner has not experienced any new issues as they work to resolve the old ones, and believes "we can return with Starliner at any time."

Nappi insisted: "We're not stuck on ISS. The crew is not in any danger, and there's no increased risk when we decide to bring Suni and Butch back to Earth."

The launch of the spacecraft was delayed two previous times before eventually taking off. In May, the astronauts were strapped into the spacecraft and hours away from launch when the test flight was canceled because of an issue with the Atlas V rocket, which helps propel the vehicle, according to NBC News.

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