Thruster glitches and helium leaks can't stop Boeing's Starliner astronaut test flight — but why are they happening?

Aug 16, 2023
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"Boeing and NASA aren't worried" No, Boeing and NASA aren't up there. 50 years ago, NASA would simply not have tolerated this level of QC problem. Errors have been going on with this craft for years. Our Astronauts lives are at stake. Dump that thing in the ocean and send SpaceEx to get them. Oh, and thank you space.com for accurate reporting. I officially love your organization.
 
Apr 17, 2023
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Boeing used to be run by a top team of very professional engineers. Now it is bean counters and accountants wanting to maximize profits.
 
I don't believe that Boeing and NASA "aren't worried". They are running fault tree analyses to identify scenarios of multiple failures that could result in fatal reentry problems, and calculate the probabilities of those scenarios.

I have done that (for other types of systems), and one of the things that needs to be understood is that not everything is understood and included in the models. The models are always "incomplete" and therefore might underestimate the total risk. "Common cause" failures of multiple components are usually the dominant contributors to the risk. With press releases indicating that they are still trying to understand some of the causes of the multiple similar failures experienced so far, I am not feeling confident about their risk assessment being reliable enough to bet lives on.

I hope that NASA and Boeing understand the risk to their reputations and future existence if this mission ends with any fatality, or even an obvious close call. If safety is really the most important priority, then re-entering the Starliner capsule empty and robotically will get them the data they need, but will just not get them the crew certification they want. At this point in the flight, I am not convinced that crew certification is warranted, anyway. There still seem to be a lot of issues left to analyze and fix.
 

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