NASA Astronauts Aren't Worried About Safety After Boeing Starliner Anomaly

Dec 20, 2019
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I can appreciate the carefully worded comments from NASA, but can't help feeling Jim Bridenstein's "hey, we're not concerned, if the crew had been flying the capsule we might well be docking at the station" is an overly kind response considering his past animosity for Space X. Boeing's failure to make the CORRECT orbit is kind of the main point, isn't it Jim? Not REACHING the space station is sort of a freaking FAILURE, isn't it Jim? Oh, yeah, that's right, Jim, you've been 'pumping' Boeing's re-cobbled Apollo-era tech and flushing billions to Boing-Boing since day one. Fo God's sake, they couldn't even make the correct orbit, and your celebrating? I'll be interested to see if they can even get it down intact.
 
Dec 20, 2019
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The anomaly in this case was completely survivable and only resulted in a failure to reach the correct orbit, but Bridenstine's comments brought to mind this recommendation from the Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report: "Future spacecraft crew survival systems should not rely on manual activation to protect the crew." I believe this was the first flight of the Centaur's dual-engine configuration atop an Atlas V, so it might not be fair to assign all the blame to Boeing for this one. But a failure, even one as benign as this, indicates that either the manufacturers didn't design in enough redundancy, or all the redundant systems failed. Neither case speaks highly of the system as a whole.

Bridenstine's comments also remind me of the "normalization of deviance" that led directly to the loss of both Columbia (insulation foam always breaks off, but the impacts are always benign) and Challenger (SRB field joint O-rings always deform, but extrusion always re-seals those joints.) When humans (or human-rated unmanned craft) are involved, a partial failure must always be treated as a complete failure.
 
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Nov 25, 2019
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We really have to wait to see the root cause of this failure. It might be an obvious defect that can be easy to fix or it might be a more serious problem in just be pure luck the spacecraft survived.

This could be as simple as a typo. Someone entered a "6" when they meant to type a "9" and this was not caught in the review process. In that case, they change the review process. But what if this turns out t be a faulty sensor and they discover there is no way to detect this kind of fault. Then a redesign is needed.

In any case, they are going to need time for a full review and this will take some weeks or months.

It surprised me that anyone at NASA or Being would comment about possible causes so early
 
Dec 20, 2019
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The uncrewed Boeing Starliner test capsule that launched today won't reach the International Space Station — but astronauts scheduled for the vehicle's next flight aren't worried.

NASA Astronauts Aren't Worried About Safety After Boeing Starliner Anomaly : Read more
"NASA and Boeing are still sorting out precisely what occurred inside the spacecraft to cause the anomaly"
Really, so how is it possible to say that astronauts could have figured it out and corrected it in real time ???
 

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