Late in the evening of Dec. 21, Boeing engineers discovered a software glitch that could have caused its uncrewed Starliner capsule to become unstable or enter the Earth’s atmosphere with a damaged heat shield. The result could have been the loss of the vehicle.
Engineers transmitted new software to the capsule at 5 a.m. the next morning. Less than three hours later, Starliner landed safely at White Sands Missile Range a two-day orbital flight test.
We accept and appreciate the recommendations of the jointly led NASA-Boeing Independent Review Team (IRT) as well as suggestions from the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel following Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT). Their insights are invaluable to the Commercial Crew Program and we will work with NASA to comprehensively apply their recommendations.
Regarding the Mission Elapsed Timer anomaly, the IRT believes they found root cause and provided a number of recommendations and corrective actions.
The IRT also investigated a valve mapping software issue, which was diagnosed and fixed in flight. That error in the software would have resulted in an incorrect thruster separation and disposal burn. What would have resulted from that is unclear.
The IRT is also making significant progress on understanding the command dropouts encountered during the mission and is further investigating methods to make the Starliner communications system more robust on future missions.
We are already working on many of the recommended fixes including re-verifying flight software code.
Our next task is to build a plan that incorporates IRT recommendations, NASA’s Organizational Safety Assessment (OSA) and any other oversight NASA chooses after considering IRT findings. Once NASA approves that plan, we will be able to better estimate timelines for the completion of all tasks. It remains too soon to speculate about next flight dates.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Following the anomaly that occurred during the December Boeing Starliner Orbital Fight Test (OFT), NASA and Boeing formed a joint investigation team tasked with examining the primary issues, which occurred during that test. Those issues included three specific concerns revealed during flight:
An error with the Mission Elapsed Timer (MET), which incorrectly polled time from the Atlas V booster nearly 11 hours prior to launch.
A software issue within the Service Module (SM) Disposal Sequence, which incorrectly translated the SM disposal sequence into the SM Integrated Propulsion Controller (IPC).
An Intermittent Space-to-Ground (S/G) forward link issue, which impeded the Flight Control team’s ability to command and control the vehicle.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 7, to discuss the status of the joint independent review team investigation into the primary issues detected during the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Participants in the briefing will be:
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
Jim Chilton, senior vice president, Boeing Space and Launch
Douglas Loverro, associate administrator, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
Kathy Lueders, program manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Program
Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at:
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Boeing PR) — On Wednesday, January 8, the Starliner that flew the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test returned safely to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After launching from Cape Canaveral on December 20, 2019, and landing at the White Sands Missile Range on December 22, the Starliner was recovered and prepared for shipment across the country, and then left the desert on January 3.
In general, the plan for post-flight processing of this spacecraft is as follows:
Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft suffered an anomaly after reaching space during its maiden flight test on Friday morning, resulting in the abandonment of plans for a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station (ISS).
Boeing and NASA officials said the spacecraft is in a good orbit and performing well. They are planning an abbreviated two-day flight test before bringing the spacecraft down for a landing on Sunday morning at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — From start to finish, Aerojet Rocketdyne will play a major role in Boeing’s first demonstration mission of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for NASA, ushering in a new era of human spaceflight. The Starliner Orbital Flight Test (OFT) demonstration is slated to launch Dec. 20, 2019 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.
Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.
In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.