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posted by martyb on Thursday January 20, @02:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the sls-spice-must-flow dept.

NASA safety panel recommends agency review how it manages human spaceflight programs

[...] The shift to commercial crew transportation has created some specific issues in the last year mentioned in the report. The panel cited a "concerning dissonance" between NASA and SpaceX during preparations for the Crew-1 landing last May. The two organizations "differed in their understanding of the level of risk to be incurred" regarding a nighttime landing of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA initially preferring a daytime landing as the lowest risk option. SpaceX argued that a nighttime landing was acceptable and offered better sea state conditions than the proposed daytime landing. The report stated that "last-minute communications had been necessary to ensure NASA approved the plans for the night landing."

There was also a difference of opinion between NASA and Boeing involving the risk of stuck propulsion valves on the company's CST-100 Starliner that delayed an uncrewed test flight last summer. Boeing evaluated the risk as low, the panel said, while NASA considered it moderate during a flight readiness review. That review, the panel concluded, "revealed NASA and Boeing do not share a common understanding of how to assess and characterize risk."

[...] The panel also took issue with the "disaggregated" way NASA's exploration efforts are organized. That structure treats the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems as separate programs, which the panel attributes to the uncertain direction of the agency's exploration programs after the cancellation of the Constellation program more than a decade ago.

Among the panel's recommendations was to create an integrated Artemis program led by a single manager "endowed with authority, responsibility, and accountability" along with a bottoms-up approach to systems engineering and integration as well as risk management. NASA sometimes refers to an "Artemis program" today, the panel noted, but without the formal program architecture that risks "confusing both employees and contractors about who is ultimately responsible and accountable."

It might help NASA if Congress would stop treating it like a jobs program.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Thursday January 20, @04:17PM (8 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Thursday January 20, @04:17PM (#1214201) Journal

    I find that hard to believe, on both counts.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @05:19PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @05:19PM (#1214228)

    How soon you forget. MCAS killed 346 people and was entirely because Boeing management were evil.

    I don't know about the Musk one, unless the GP expects the Mars colony to collapse.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by HiThere on Thursday January 20, @06:37PM (3 children)

      by HiThere (866) on Thursday January 20, @06:37PM (#1214264) Journal

      FWIW, at this point I'd give the Mars colony a 60% chance of collapsing. And still think it worthwhile, as long as the participants were volunteers.

      Also I'm rather sure that Boeing has killed more than 346 people through cost cutting on security. That 346 sounds like one incident, though I didn't care enough to search. OTOH, if you consider deaths of employees (including of via subcontracting, etc.) during manufacturing, then I'm rather sure both Musk (Tesla, etc.) and Boeing have killed a lot more. Whether that was reasonable or not is a question that would need careful investigation. (In neither case do I beleive they set out the kill the people, though possibly some of the sub-contractors did.)

      FWIW, manufacturing isn't the safest job. It's generally safer than being a lumberjack or a miner, but not as safe as many others.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, @06:49PM (#1214276)

        346 was the two MCAS crashes. Management sold it as the same plane, when it handled differently. They put in a software system to mimic the older handling so they didn't have to pay for pilot training. The software worked fine as long as the sensor didn't fail. The evil part was that they charged extra to put in a backup sensor. The two planes that crashed, the sensor failed and the software dived the plane into the ground.

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday January 20, @10:17PM (1 child)

        by Freeman (732) on Thursday January 20, @10:17PM (#1214371) Journal

        Boeing produced "229 military aircraft" in 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing [wikipedia.org]

        Pretty sure those weren't all cargo planes. Boeing has been producing military aircraft for quite some time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_aircraft_of_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

        When you are developing a military aircraft, you're intending for it to kill people.

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        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @11:28PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @11:28PM (#1214657)

          With military aircraft the intention isn't to kill your own people.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday January 20, @10:08PM (2 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday January 20, @10:08PM (#1214364) Journal

      In the event that you blame every crashed plane on Boeing. There's more than 100s of casualties to Boeing's name.

      Currently, Elon Musk's dream of a Mars colony is a very large pipe dream. Blaming any possible future collapse, on his vision of a functional colony, is preposterous.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @12:53AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, @12:53AM (#1214409)

        It was sarcasm, o course.

        • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Friday January 21, @02:18PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 21, @02:18PM (#1214489) Journal
          So you really have an altar to the Musk?