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posted by chromas on Tuesday July 31 2018, @08:21PM   Printer-friendly

ASAP reviews Boeing failure, positive SpaceX success ahead of Commercial Crew announcement

As NASA prepares to provide updated launch date targets for the uncrewed and crewed Commercial Crew demonstration missions from both SpaceX and Boeing – as well as flight crew assignments for each provider – the agency's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held its quarterly meeting last Thursday, during which they outlined a failure on Boeing's part that could potentially lead to a redesign of a critical element of Starliner. The ASAP also outlined multiple points of positive progress on SpaceX's part.

As was first reported by Eric Berger on Ars Technica, Boeing suffered a test stand failure of Starliner's critical pad abort thrusters in late-June, a failure that reportedly ended with the leaking of volatile propellant from the thruster system.

In multiple statements to numerous outlets thereafter, Boeing stated that they were "confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action." But that wasn't quite the take-away from the ASAP meeting that occurred days after the company issued its statement.

"Boeing recently conducted a hot fire test for their low-altitude abort milestone for the CST-100," noted a member of the ASAP panel. "And there was an anomaly on that test that we need to better understand in terms of its potential impact on the design and operation and the schedule. And so although there's a lot of interest in this issue, Boeing has asked for some additional time to step back and understand that a little better."

New launch target dates, as well as the names of the astronauts assigned to fly to the ISS on Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, will be announced on Friday, August 3, at 11 AM EDT.

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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:

Boeing Hit With 61 Safety Fixes for Astronaut Capsule 11 comments

Boeing hit with 61 safety fixes for astronaut capsule:

In releasing the outcome of a joint investigation, NASA said it still has not decided whether to require Boeing to launch the Starliner again without a crew, or go straight to putting astronauts on board.

Douglas Loverro, NASA's human exploration and operation chief, told reporters that Boeing must first present a plan and schedule for the 61 corrective actions. Boeing expects to have a plan in NASA's hands by the end of this month.

Loverro said the space agency wants to verify, among other things, that Boeing has retested all the necessary software for Starliner.

"At the end of the day, what we have got to decide is ... do we have enough confidence to say we are ready to fly with a crew or do we believe that we need another uncrewed testing," Loverro said.

Boeing's Jim Chilton, a senior vice president, said his company is ready to repeat a test flight without a crew, if NASA decides on one.

"'All of us want crew safety No. 1," Chilton said. "Whatever testing we've got to do to make that happen, we embrace it."

Loverro said he felt compelled to designate the test flight as a "high-visibility close call." He said that involves more scrutiny of Boeing and NASA to make sure mistakes like this don't happen again.

Software errors not only left the Starliner in the wrong orbit following liftoff and precluded a visit to the International Space Station but they could have caused a collision between the capsule and its separated service module toward the end of the two-day flight. That error was caught and corrected by ground controllers just hours before touchdown.

Citation: Boeing hit with 61 safety fixes for astronaut capsule (2020, March 6) retrieved 6 March 2020 from

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Tuesday July 31 2018, @08:33PM (2 children)

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <> on Tuesday July 31 2018, @08:33PM (#715381) Homepage Journal

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
    • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:12PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:12PM (#715400)

      Erin was a little boy around the age of nine. He was precocious, kind, and well-liked by everyone at and outside of his school. And today was a very special day for Erin. You see, it was his first time.

      His first time. It was his first time being brutally raped in the anus. It was his first time having his ankle twisted and broken. It was his first time being stabbed in the back by a screwdriver. It was his first time having his tummy slit open with a ceramic knife. And it was his first time having his neck snapped. The man known as Blowham stole all of Erin's first times from him, and he did it all with a gentle, loving smile on his face, while only occasionally stopping to laugh like a maniac. Erin was well-liked indeed.

      Thank you, Blowham! Thank you so much!

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:49PM (5 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:49PM (#715420) Journal

    If SpaceX got the kind of money that ULA gets, I wonder what they would be able to do?

    Since nobody defrags SSDs anymore, they are more (or less?) prone to failure of their seek mechanisms.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:56PM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Tuesday July 31 2018, @09:56PM (#715424) Journal

      Too much money can be a curse. Just look at Mozilla.

      However, if BFR and Starlink are successful, SpaceX could be rolling in a lot of dough in 10 years. In fact, they predict that Starlink will be the company's biggest source of revenue [], not launch services.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday July 31 2018, @11:39PM (1 child)

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday July 31 2018, @11:39PM (#715440)

        Boeing's contract is 4.2 billions for 2-6 flights of 7 seats capsule. SpaceX's is 2.6 billions for the same.

        Assuming the best scenario (6x7) it comes down to 100 million per seat for Boeing and 62 for SpaceX. That's a very wishful thinking given the protect delays and general shape of the industry.

        Russians are charging 75-80 per seat (and 1-2 seats can be bought - bulk is way cheaper)

        Therefore I predict that no American company or the government will ever be able to send humans to space more efficiently than Russia, let alone China or India.

        Having said that, Russia have stopped accepting orders so perhaps our government really has no choice. []

        Perhaps, Americans will never again leave this rock; in our lifetimes at least.

        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 01 2018, @01:14AM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday August 01 2018, @01:14AM (#715471) Journal

          $62 million is about what a Falcon 9 cargo/satellite launch is supposed to cost, but it only gets you one seat, eh? NASA has pretty much always overpaid for the commercial launches to the ISS, and the existence of their NASA contract is why SpaceX is alive today.

          SpaceX may be a cheap launcher, but there is more work that goes into manned flights (especially their very first ones) to make sure we don't have dead humans on live streaming video. On August 3rd, we will learn the names of the astronauts who may get the opportunity to DIE on SpaceX's or Boeing's rocket.

          This is only the first such contract for SpaceX, and they significantly underbid their Boeing competition. It's possible that they will have to make even less money per seat in the future (Blue Origin may be entering the fray with New Glenn).

          SpaceX plans to skip human spaceflight certification for Falcon Heavy and fly humans on BFR next. Which could carry an absolute arseload of humans or cargo to the ISS or other space station, supposedly with cheaper launch costs than Falcon 9 or Falcon 1. They could also put up a BA 2100 [] with it.

          SpaceX also plans to send humans to Mars... with a target date of around 2024. Even if that date slips by a decade, that will be within most of our lifetimes.

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31 2018, @11:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31 2018, @11:46PM (#715443)

        This is correct. More money = managers hire more people (manager salary is based on the number of people under them). It's a pyramid scheme. More people take longer to do anything. A small number of people in an organization do the real work. An internal NASA study found that number to be 1 in 30. Your job as an engineer is not to solver problem, but to work through the morass of people around you clogging up the system.

        Aviation Week & Space Technology had an article about 20 years ago on the Indian Space program and compared it to China and how they were undercutting China's price by a huge factor and one of the engineers in the Chinese space program lamented they couldn't get any work done because there were too many people and it was nearly impossible to get anything done. For related, see adding manpower in The Mythical Man Month and why.

        Space has long been the perfect jobs program because it's rocket science and who understands any of that stuff. If they say it takes 14,000 people to design a toilet seat, they must know what they're talking about because they're geniuses. Right?

    • (Score: 1) by Type44Q on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:28AM

      by Type44Q (4347) on Sunday August 05 2018, @12:28AM (#717376)

      If SpaceX got the kind of money that ULA gets, I wonder what they would be able to do?

      Build flying cars that can travel to Uranus.