NASA and Boeing complete investigations into Starliner launch failure

10 Juillet, 2020, 04:24 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Starliner Calypso lifts off aboard its Atlas V launcher on the Orbital Flight Test – via Brady Kenniston for NSF  L2

"Now we are turning the web page from the investigation section from [the flight test] into hardware enhancement" for the subsequent flight, NASA Professional Crew program manager Steve Stich informed reporters.

The Boeing Starliner launched in December previous year in an uncrewed mission.

As a result, the review team reported 80 recommendations for corrective and preventative actions for Boeing and NASA to undertake.

NASA has completed a series of investigations into the first flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft which failed to make it to the International Space Station on a test flight late a year ago.

Boeing subsequently learned that other software problems could have caused the capsule and the rocket to collide at the time of separation, a potentially very unsafe event if the flight had been crewed. Previously, 61 recommendations were given.

"Perhaps we were a little more focused on SpaceX". However, it ended up in the wrong orbit and couldn't reach the International Space Station.

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Getting a spacecraft that is created to carry humans up to NASA's safety and reliability standards can't be easy, but Boeing appears to have seriously dropped the ball when it comes to Starliner.

NASA's endorsement of SpaceX's methods was another example of how Elon Musk's company has pulled ahead of Boeing in the space race.

"It's often natural for a human being to spend more time on that newer approach, and maybe we didn't quite take the time we needed with the more traditional approach", Stich further added. While NASA didn't list all 80 recommendations, it enumerated some of the more important ones, such as addressing any identified simulation or emulation gaps, increasing the involvement of subject matter experts in safety critical areas and making organizational changes to the safety reporting structure. Since the initial accident with Boeing, NASA has added more staff to monitor the software aspects of both Boeing and SpaceX.

Boeing and NASA have not yet established a launch date for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), but it is unlikely that the company will be able to carry astronauts until at least 2021. The astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth aboard the Dragon capsule next month. That includes more detailed testing for how software and hardware were integrated, and performing complete "run for record" tests before each flight.

The recommendations primarily concern the on-board software, which was the main problem with the flight test last December.

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