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posted by chromas on Friday July 13 2018, @04:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the NASA-calls-the-shots dept.

NASA Needs Backup Plan To Maintain U.S. Presence At Space Station, Watchdog Says

A government watchdog agency wants NASA to come up with a contingency plan for getting American astronauts to the International Space Station.

The recommendation is one of the major takeaways in a 47-page report from the Government Accountability Office on what is known as the Commercial Crew Program.

[...] Under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA chose SpaceX and Boeing to develop the next generation of crew capsules to take the place of the shuttle. The two companies are competing to see which one will be the first private company to launch American astronauts into space.

The GAO's report acknowledges that SpaceX and Boeing have made "progress developing their crew transportation systems," but that "both contractors have further delayed the certification milestone to early 2019." The companies had initially been required to prove to NASA that their spacecraft would meet the agency's requirements for human space flight by 2017.

Also at Space News and Ars Technica.

Original Submission

Related Stories

NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft; SpaceX Poised to Fly Crew Before Boeing 17 comments

NASA Announces Astronauts for First Commercial Crew Missions

Today, NASA announced the astronaut selection for the first Commercial Crew flights, which will finally restore the ability to launch astronauts from American soil. Boeing's first test flight, which is scheduled for mid-2019, will have Eric Boe, social media-savvy astronaut Chris Ferguson and rookie Nicole Aunapu Mann on board. SpaceX's inaugural Crew Dragon voyage, targeting April 2019, will have Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins as crew.

NASA also announced the astronauts for the first missions, which will be long-duration and dock with the International Space Station. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. And finally, the second SpaceX demo flight will be crewed by Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Source: Engadget

NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft; SpaceX Poised to Fly Crew Before Boeing

NASA has selected nine American astronauts who will fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner:

NASA Prepared to Purchase Two More Soyuz Seats From Roscosmos 2 comments

Due to delays and potential delays in launching crew to the International Space Station (ISS) using American-made spacecraft, NASA is prepared to purchase two more seats to the ISS from Russia's Roscosmos:

Despite the scheduled return of US domestic crew launch capability this year, NASA is set to purchase more rides on the Russian Soyuz through 2020. The agency is adhering to a recommendation from its Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) after concerns were raised about the lack of a back-up option covering the potential delays that could be suffered during a challenging test flight phase for Dragon 2 and Starliner.

[...] "Past experience has shown the difficulties associated with achieving first flights on time in the final year of development. Typically, problems will be discovered during these test flights. The consequences of no US crew on ISS warrant protection by acquiring additional seats. The absence of U.S. crewmembers at any point would diminish ISS operations to an inoperable state," noted a procurement document published on February 13. "NASA is considering contracting with the State Space Corporation "Roscosmos" for these services on a sole source basis for two (2) Soyuz seats and associated services to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft vehicle. This transportation would be for one crewmember in the Fall of 2019 and one crewmember in the Spring of 2020."

The two seats in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 seem to be in reference to the Soyuz MS-15 and MS-16 flights. Soyuz MS-15 currently has its third seat occupied by a paying spaceflight participant – who will now likely be bumped to accommodate a permanent US Station crewmember – and Soyuz MS-16 is a schedule two-person flight with a vacant third seat available.

While the action does not point to an increase in uncertainty over the progress being made by Commercial Crew providers, it does cite the wish to avoid placing schedule pressure on the companies, an issue that still haunts NASA after it was determined to have played a direct role in the loss of Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Also at Space News and Ars Technica.

Previously: Boeing Crewed Test Flight to the ISS May be Upgraded to a Full Mission
SpaceX and Boeing Not Ready to Transport Astronauts to the International Space Station
SpaceX, Boeing (and NASA) Push Back 1st Test Launches of Private Spaceships

Related: NASA Confident in Soyuz, Ready for Crewed Launch in December

Original Submission

Reuters: Boeing Starliner Flights to the ISS Delayed by at Least Another 3 Months 13 comments

Boeing delays by months test flights for U.S. human space program: sources

Boeing Co has delayed by at least three months its first uncrewed flight to the International Space Station under NASA's human spaceflight program, and pushed its crewed flight until November, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Reuters reported last month that NASA has warned Boeing and rival contractor SpaceX of design and safety concerns the companies need to address before flying humans to space.

Boeing's first test flight was slated for April but it has been pushed to August, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The new schedule means that Boeing's crewed mission, initially scheduled for August, will be delayed until November.

Also at Spaceflight Insider, Astronomy Magazine, and BGR.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday July 13 2018, @05:09AM (5 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 13 2018, @05:09AM (#706526) Journal

    No serious quarrel with those Russians for now or else no new Americans into space for a while.

    • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Friday July 13 2018, @08:06AM (4 children)

      by MostCynical (2589) on Friday July 13 2018, @08:06AM (#706551) Journal

      Global politics is like an onion.
      On the outer-most layer, you have disagreements, trade wars, tariffs, tit-for-tat stupidity

      Several layers underneath, you have the agreements, so oil flows, astronauts fly, planes don't get shot down over intmational air space..

      Sometimes, the deepest layers are revealed, and some of this stuff stops working, but mostly, the rich want to stay rich, so the big stuff* keeps moving.


      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday July 13 2018, @09:36AM (3 children)

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Friday July 13 2018, @09:36AM (#706564)

        > Global politics is like an onion.

        This arrangement of global politics is mostly a late 20th century invention (i.e. post-WWII or even cold war). So while what you write may be true now, it may not be true in another 50 years time. Or indeed, another 5 years time. Relative world stability/peace/prosperity is, again, a late 20th century invention, which may not last long.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13 2018, @01:21PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13 2018, @01:21PM (#706600)

          remember the days when wars could be settled or fended off by the right marriage?
          those were the days...

          • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday July 13 2018, @04:30PM

            by bob_super (1357) on Friday July 13 2018, @04:30PM (#706686)

            Or internal problems could be fended off by the right war ?
            Those were/are/will be the days...

          • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Friday July 13 2018, @04:52PM

            by isostatic (365) on Friday July 13 2018, @04:52PM (#706693) Journal

            Didn't really work in game of thrones

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday July 13 2018, @05:27AM (2 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday July 13 2018, @05:27AM (#706529)

    Don't you know that you can make the deadline by working 18-hour days, reducing the overhead of testing, then just apologize and incrementally fix the bugs when the customer starts bitching about sudden crashes in basic features?
    Agile, Fuck Yeah!

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13 2018, @12:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13 2018, @12:24PM (#706586)

    Certification for flight requires a risk analysis accepted by NASA.

    This is a useful exercise for making sure you don't do dumb stuff again that has already bitten you.
    But the result should have error bands and an honest understanding that is is only a guess.

    How do you do this for failure modes you haven't thought of?
    (Like poor wiring practices and pure O2 at elevated pressure.)

    How do you do this for failure modes the command chain doesn't think are serious?
    (Like cold orings or falling ice.)

    We joke about the best way to air travel is to ship yourself FexEd.
    What would a risk analysis look like for wrapping a crew member in space rated bubble wrap and duct tape and shipping him in a Dragon cargo flight?
    The point is that the risk analysis needs to be balanced with common sense.