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Boeing's Starliner (thread renamed)

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17 minutes ago, tater said:

I don't think safety is a huge issue, though the failure might be indicative of deeper issues.

Mostly I think it's a fairness issue. It's a fixed price contract, and they've already been given more after the fact (on top of them winning vs Sierra Nevada at a much higher price). If the contract requires it, they should do it, and with the same, fixed price they are contracted for.

 

This, if I was NASA part here I would ask for an another review, issue was not crew critical and a manned mission would probably just gone manual. 
However it might be other issues, and yes this kick back more to SpaceX as I see it, as they seems to rely more on automation with fewer manual overrides.
Yes their software might be smarter and more in an grind layout. 

On the other hand its an bit weird they don't have an irdium link to spaceships as an fallback link, not to talk about some of the other systems in GTO. 
 

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The thing is, NASA really, really wants commercial crew to be flying already. You may be worried that it is not "fair" if they don't do another uncrewed orbital test, but I'm pretty sure all that NASA wants is for both of these capsules to just be in-service and ready to use. Their focus is going to be on whether the test was good enough to allow a crewed flight, not whether they should be making Boeing spend millions of dollars on another flight in the name of "fairness".

I get the sense NASA is trying to talk themselves into saying this was good enough, but if they can't do that, then they will have to just eat the program delay and schedule another uncrewed test.

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Spoiler

The crew could just press a button and reset the failed clock. So, the flight was successful. (Except the docking, of course)

 

Edited by kerbiloid

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1 hour ago, kerbiloid said:

So, the flight was successful. (Except the docking, of course)

Spoiler

a22.jpg

 

Edited by sh1pman

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8 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

You may be worried that it is not "fair" if they don't do another uncrewed orbital test, but I'm pretty sure all that NASA wants is for both of these capsules to just be in-service and ready to use.

Yeah. There's been a lot of weirdly punitive takes after the MET debacle, talking about how NASA could force Boeing to fly another OFT because it's in their contract, and stating all the ways NASA could (and often implying they should) screw them over and force Boeing to spend more money. Thing is, the last thing NASA wants to do right now is take any moves that could result in CCrew falling further behind schedule. They're already facing a bad enough "Soyuz crunch" in 2020 as-is. They're not going to rake Boeing or SpaceX over the coals unless they literally have no other choice.

10 hours ago, tater said:

If the contract requires it, they should do it, and with the same, fixed price they are contracted for.

If both parties to a contract agree it should be changed, they can do (just about) whatever they want with it.

Edited by jadebenn

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2 hours ago, jadebenn said:

Yeah. There's been a lot of weirdly punitive takes after the MET debacle, talking about how NASA could force Boeing to fly another OFT because it's in their contract, and stating all the ways NASA could (and often implying they should) screw them over and force Boeing to spend more money. Thing is, the last thing NASA wants to do right now is take any moves that could result in CCrew falling further behind schedule. They're already facing a bad enough "Soyuz crunch" in 2020 as-is. They're not going to rake Boeing or SpaceX over the coals unless they literally have no other choice.

If both parties to a contract agree it should be changed, they can do (just about) whatever they want with it.

I think that there is a lot of the people calling for a second OFT aren't asking for that because of the failure, they're just angry at Boeing mismanagement of SLS, and they want Boeing to pay for it in some way.

I'd ask Boeing to delay the crewed mission until we have the fault chain for this nailed down, then, as long as it's a simple error (which it is looking like, just a simple oversight in the MET clock), the program can continue without a new flight. 

Safe crew access to the ISS must be the priority here, not settling scores with a megacorp.

That being said though, given what we've been hearing about the 737 MAX, looking at the corporate culture of ULA after this incident may be warranted.

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4 hours ago, jadebenn said:

If both parties to a contract agree it should be changed, they can do (just about) whatever they want with it.

Yeah, they absolutely can, but NASA can also arbitrarily add more money to the fixed price contract to only one contractor, too (and they did).

2 hours ago, MinimumSky5 said:

I think that there is a lot of the people calling for a second OFT aren't asking for that because of the failure, they're just angry at Boeing mismanagement of SLS, and they want Boeing to pay for it in some way.

I'd ask Boeing to delay the crewed mission until we have the fault chain for this nailed down, then, as long as it's a simple error (which it is looking like, just a simple oversight in the MET clock), the program can continue without a new flight. 

Safe crew access to the ISS must be the priority here, not settling scores with a megacorp.

That being said though, given what we've been hearing about the 737 MAX, looking at the corporate culture of ULA after this incident may be warranted.

It's the appearance of favoritism at the very least. (note that the reason they are getting paid more after the fact is because Boeing was being asked to be on call to fly 2X a year, so they needed extra money---something that was also already in the contract (the contract is nominally for 1 per year from each provider, with the option for 2 if the other contractor has a problem (to insure access to ISS)).

All this because they were summarily deemed to be the more "grown up" contractor instead of SN (I'm still annoyed about Dream Chaser losing out, I like me some mini-shuttle ;) ).

As to the oversight---we still don't have good specifics, do we? It's amazing to me that this was a single point of failure, and that they didn't catch it (they must have done full mission simulations before hand, right?), particularly since ULA (as usual) did a perfectly nominal job of putting them where and when they were supposed to be.

 

 

 

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Quick question: The capsule was apparently loaded with supplies for the ISS and even Christmas presents for the astronauts. Does anybody know what happens to supplies that don't make it to space? I presume the Christmas gifts could be presented at a later occasion, but what about the rest? Will some of it potentially be re-used, or is it all just dumped into a container and trucked off to the garbage dump?

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46 minutes ago, Codraroll said:

Quick question: The capsule was apparently loaded with supplies for the ISS and even Christmas presents for the astronauts. Does anybody know what happens to supplies that don't make it to space? I presume the Christmas gifts could be presented at a later occasion, but what about the rest? Will some of it potentially be re-used, or is it all just dumped into a container and trucked off to the garbage dump?

I think it gets put in a numbered crate in a government warehouse, right next to the Ark Of The Covenant.

(As I understand it, "supplies" are often things like fresh fruit and vegetables, which they don't get up there unless they have had a recent arrival. I assume that whatever is non-perishable will just get sent with the next delivery, but of course anything that was perishable will likely either be tossed out or donated to a food bank or whatever.)

Edited by mikegarrison

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1 hour ago, mikegarrison said:

I think it gets put in a numbered crate in a government warehouse, right next to the Ark Of The Covenant.

(As I understand it, "supplies" are often things like fresh fruit and vegetables, which they don't get up there unless they have had a recent arrival. I assume that whatever is non-perishable will just get sent with the next delivery, but of course anything that was perishable will likely either be tossed out or donated to a food bank or whatever.)

Makes sense, its not an planned delivery so they add some nice stuff for the astronauts, fruits and other perishable food is high on the list. Other can just be various resupplies so you can send less later on. 
 

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Spoiler

If there was pizza, they  can just warm it and reuse.

Spoiler

Btw how many g's can the fruits survive?

 

Edited by kerbiloid

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9 hours ago, jadebenn said:

If both parties to a contract agree it should be changed, they can do (just about) whatever they want with it.

Pretty much - and if I remember rightly (it's been a few years so I may not be), NASA agreed to change SpaceX's commercial cargo contract such that they were only obliged to do two COTS Demo flights rather than three. 

A couple of caveats before I carry on with this post:

  1. I'm a SpaceX fan. I make no secret of that and I think my posting record on SpaceX related topics speaks for itself. With that said I do try to be a fan and not a fanboi (with all the negative connotations that usually go along with that word.)
  2. If Boeing were able to complete all the required tests apart from the actual docking on their test flight, I think that NASA could reasonably argue that that is good enough. Hopefully, by now we can be reasonably confident that the actual docking adaptor will work as advertised, so provided that Boeing have shown that Starliner can safely carry out the maneuvers necessary to rendezvous with ISS and approach it at a suitable relative velocity for docking, then yeah - good enough. 
  3. Beyond the blindingly obvious (test thrusters to demonstrate that Starliner shouldn't accidentally ram ISS), I don't really have much of an idea what's involved with 2. 
  4. If SpaceX were in the same situation as Boeing are currently in, I would expect them to be arguing just as hard that another test flight wasn't required.

With all of that said, I don't think it's terribly difficult to see why there's been an online backlash against Boeing, at least in some circles. 

There is a need to get Commercial Crew flying. However, that's been the case for the last couple of years. Waiving a contract requirement now in the name of 'getting this done' rings a trifle hollow.

NASA have shown themselves to be perfectly willing to lean on the contract for SpaceX. (Propulsive landing you say? Nope no extra money for that. You'll be validating that on your nickel. COPV - yeah we don't really trust that, go design us another pressure vessel). Being even-handed and presuming they've been similarly rigorous with Boeing (I'll freely admit that I haven't been following Starliner the way I've been following Dragon 2) - why does Boeing get out of it's contractual obligations now? 

It's really not hard to see this as a play by Boeing to avoid absorbing the costs of another test flight. Sucks to be them - perhaps they should have had their lawyers read up on these new-fangled 'fixed price contracts', before signing up to one. Boeing, after all, are about the biggest of big boys.

Finally, all the above might have garnered more sympathy, or at least a fairer trial in the Court of Internet Opinion, if Boeing weren't dragging around a history of being overpaid for underdelivering on SLS.

Edited by KSK

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3 hours ago, kerbiloid said:
  Hide contents

If there was pizza, they  can just warm it and reuse.

  Hide contents

Btw how many g's can the fruits survive?

 

Pizza probably have to much particles from the bread part. Stews or lasagna would be perfect for 0-g. 
Others like the soup sandwich flopped. 
http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1000/fv00916.htm
Keep reading on, eating soup with chopsticks makes more sense :) 

 

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22 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

The thing is, NASA really, really wants commercial crew to be flying already. You may be worried that it is not "fair" if they don't do another uncrewed orbital test, but I'm pretty sure all that NASA wants is for both of these capsules to just be in-service and ready to use. Their focus is going to be on whether the test was good enough to allow a crewed flight, not whether they should be making Boeing spend millions of dollars on another flight in the name of "fairness".

I get the sense NASA is trying to talk themselves into saying this was good enough, but if they can't do that, then they will have to just eat the program delay and schedule another uncrewed test.

Commercial crew (both teams) seems to also get a lot of artificial blocks placed in front of them (by NASA) and having the budget cut (both NASA and the Senate), presumably to try to get SLS to launch first.  NASA is a big place, but I suspect that the entire Marshal Space Center (and anyone else sufficiently coupled with SLS) doesn't really want to see it fly.

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4 hours ago, KSK said:

Finally, all the above might have garnered more sympathy, or at least a fairer trial in the Court of Internet Opinion, if Boeing weren't dragging around a history of being overpaid for underdelivering on SLS.

Not to mention the 737MAX fiasco, showing problematic software and pushing things past regulators. That and SLS issues do not Instill confidence

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7 hours ago, StrandedonEarth said:

Not to mention the 737MAX fiasco, showing problematic software and pushing things past regulators. That and SLS issues do not Instill confidence

Agreed but I was giving them the benefit of the doubt on that one. It's also tempting to draw a parallel between their preference for self-certification (737) and their preference for extensive simulation rather than flight testing (Starliner) but a) I don't know nearly enough about this to tell whether that's a fair parallel and b) it seems a bit tasteless to drag the 737 tragedies into this.

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11 hours ago, wumpus said:

presumably to try to get SLS to launch first

:huh:

There's no organized conspiracy to delay CCrew so SLS launches first. 

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11 hours ago, KSK said:

it seems a bit tasteless to drag the 737 tragedies into this.

but those tragedies speak to the companies priority of money well over safety. The 737 mess is a very good point to bring up in regard to whether or not the the starliner should re-qualify. I feel that everything they do for quite some time should be absolutely demonstrated in the real world before anyone trusted the product they deliver, based on their recent history.

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40 minutes ago, AngrybobH said:

but those tragedies speak to the companies priority of money well over safety. The 737 mess is a very good point to bring up in regard to whether or not the the starliner should re-qualify. I feel that everything they do for quite some time should be absolutely demonstrated in the real world before anyone trusted the product they deliver, based on their recent history.

The story of the 737 MAX is much more complicated than this. I am not surprised this is what you believe, because it is the narrative that is being pushed at people. But the problems that those crashes brought to light are much more systemic and complicated.

12 hours ago, KSK said:

their preference for self-certification

Another thing people don't understand is that "self-certification" is how the industry has operated for decades. It's just that people didn't know and didn't bother to find out. Moreover, it wasn't actually the source of the problems. (It's not really "self-certification" either. But again, that's complicated, and complicated stories are confusing to people, so the simplified ones are what get told and believed.)

I really do think this report https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/magazine/boeing-737-max-crashes.html is the best explanation of what really went wrong -- in Boeing, in the airlines, in the FAA, and most importantly in the entire system.

Edited by mikegarrison

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I suppose it’s not really the kind of thing you think about, unless you’re actually working in the industry or until something appears to go demonstrably wrong with the system. Same with most industry sectors really.

Anyhow, thanks for the informed view and I’ll give that article a read.

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3 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

...more systemic and complicated.

 

3 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

...importantly in the entire system.

Exactly. Boeing is A part of the system that failed. It is also true they place a higher priority on profit than safety(see recently released documents). And, until they can demonstrate some form of trustworthiness, they should not be let off the hook on any of their products that could result in the loss lives. Dishonesty as a policy should not be rewarded.

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Just now, AngrybobH said:

Exactly. Boeing is A part of the system that failed. It is also true they place a higher priority on profit than safety(see recently released documents). And, until they can demonstrate some form of trustworthiness, they should not be let off the hook on any of their products that could result in the loss lives. Dishonesty as a policy should not be rewarded.

The recently released documents were recently released *by Boeing*.

Also, they mainly concern one person (who has lawyered up, plead the Fifth Amendment, and doesn't work for Boeing anymore). They are troubling, though, and they particularly concern one of the big issues involved, which is pilot training.

As best I can tell, everybody involved really did believe that pilots would know how to fly the airplane in the event of a "runaway trim" situation. The Lion Air flight the night before the crash suffered the same issues, but the flight crew followed the runaway trim procedure correctly and safely landed the airplane. Obviously the next crew did not. And even more baffling was the Ethiopian crew, who knew what was happening, but still didn't manage to fly the airplane. Whether it was inadequate training, situational overload, just poor piloting skills, or whatever, it was also compounded by fight control software design choices that, in retrospect, were very bad mistakes.

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I got the impression from those documents that, while it concerned mainly one person, everyone knew what the game plan was and what was really going on. They also make me seriously question Boeing policies because pilot training, which was a significant part of the Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes, wasn't the only fault that Boeing is responsible for.

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