. 24/7 Space News .
Software defects could have destroyed Boeing Starliner on test flight
by Brooks Hays and Glenn Singer
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 10, 2020

hanging by a thread...

Two "critical" software defects found after an unpiloted test flight of the Boeing Starliner capsule in December could have caused destruction of the vehicle had they not been corrected by ground controllers, NASA said Friday.

"The two software issues are likely are only symptoms, not the root problem," Douglas Loverro, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said during a briefing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA hopes Boeing's crew capsule eventually will ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, but during its December test flight, Starliner suffered multiple software glitches and failed to dock at the space station as planned.

In January, NASA and Boeing convened an independent review team to investigate the Starliner's shortcomings. The review is ongoing, but this week the review team offered preliminary findings, as well as an initial list of corrective actions.

Until Friday's announcement and press briefing, Boeing and NASA had confirmed only one software error, which caused the capsule to miss a planned docking with International Space Station because Starliner did not reach the planned orbital height.

"After finding the first software glitch, we went looking for similar problems, and we found one," said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing's Space and Launch Division. "We found it because we went looking."

The joint NASA-Boeing investigation team found that ground intervention prevented loss of the vehicle in both cases.

"While this anomaly was corrected in flight, if it had gone uncorrected, it would have led to erroneous thruster firings and uncontrolled motion during [service module] separation from deorbit, with the potential for a catastrophic spacecraft failure," said Paul Hill, a member of the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel that is examining problems with the mission.

Hill is the former director of Mission Operations at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson's Space Center in Houston and a former flight director for the space shuttle and International Space Station.

The additional software error places into further doubt that Starliner will be permitted to carry astronauts to the space station without another test flight. SpaceX, which has developed a Crew Dragon capsule, is expected to carry two NASA astronauts to the space station as early as this spring.

The investigation also revealed issues with the vessel's Intermittent space-to-ground communication system, which impeded the ability of Boeing's engineers and flight managers to command and control the spacecraft - and investigators already have provided 11 top-priority corrective actions to the Boeing team.

During Friday's press briefing, NASA and Boeing officials said the software glitches were the result of breakdowns in both the design and code phase and the test and verification phase.

The fixes will require "systemic corrective actions," NASA said in a statement ahead of the briefing, with Loverro saying that "numerous process escapes" existed during which both NASA and Boeing could have uncovered the defects.

NASA said it expects to have the know the root causes of the issues and provide a full set of corrective actions for Starliner by the end of February.

"We want to assure that these necessary steps are completely understood prior to determining the plan for future flights," NASA said. "Separately from the anomaly investigation, NASA also is still reviewing the data collected from the test flight to help determine the future plan."

Shortly after its liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket - on a mission to put the commercial capsule to the test - the spacecraft immediately deviated from its flight plan, firing thrusters unexpectedly, reorienting itself and using too much fuel, which prevented rendezvous and docking with the space station.

Engineers on the ground regained control of the spacecraft and placed it in a safe orbit, albeit too low to rendezvous with the space station. Mission controllers carried out as many other tests as possible and then brought Starliner back for a landing in New Mexico.

The capsule, which for the most part was not damaged in re-entry, is being refurbished at Kennedy Space Center.

"We going to continue our ground software tests and we're going to test until we get this right," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager or Boeing's Starliner program.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Commercial Crew Program at NASA
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Multiple software errors doomed Boeing crew capsule test
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2020
Multiple software issues and a poor radio link doomed a test flight of Boeing's crew capsule late last year, NASA said Friday, revealing for the first time a glitch that could have destroyed the spaceship on its re-entry. The Starliner's December 20 mission, an uncrewed test flight, was ended early when it failed to engage its thrusters on time, due to a previously reported faulty timer. NASA said in a statement Friday that the problem arose because it incorrectly pulled time from its Atlas V l ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

The science behind and beyond Luca's mission

Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station

AdvancingX announces collaborative agreement with ISS National Lab

Space station to forge ultra-fast connections

Getting your payload to orbit

India, Russia Agree to Develop Advanced Ignition Systems to Propel Futuristic Rockets, Missiles

NASA, Europe space agency launch Solar Orbiter mission

Systima Technologies expands workforce to support hypersonic programs

Mars 2020 equipped with laser vision and better mics

MAVEN explores Mars to understand radio interference at Earth

Mars' water was mineral-rich and salty

Russian scientists propose manned Base on Martian Moon to control robots remotely on red planet

China's Long March-5B carrier rocket arrives at launch site

China to launch more space science satellites

China's space station core module, manned spacecraft arrive at launch site

China to launch Mars probe in July

Maxar Technologies will build Intelsat Epic geostationary communications satellite with NASA hosted payload

Australia's first space incubator seeks global applicants for 2020 program

OneWeb lifts off: Next batch ready to launch

Arianespace and Starsem launch 34 OneWeb satellites to help bridge the digital divide

First time controlling two spacecraft with one dish

New threads: Nanowires made of tellurium and nanotubes hold promise for wearable tech

Fastest high-precision 3D printer

AFRL, partners develop innovative tools to accelerate composites certification

Distant giant planets form differently than 'failed stars'

CHEOPS space telescope takes its first pictures

NASA's Webb will seek atmospheres around potentially habitable exoplanets

To make amino acids, just add electricity

Pluto's icy heart makes winds blow

Why Uranus and Neptune are different

Seeing stars in 3D: The New Horizons Parallax Program

Looking back at a New Horizons New Year's to remember

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.