Boeing to Fly Additional Starliner Mission

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Boeing has decided to fly a second uncrewed flight test as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Although no new launch date has been set, NASA has accepted the proposal to fly the mission again and will work side-by-side with Boeing to resume flight tests to the International Space Station on the company’s CST-100 Starliner system.

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Boeing to Refly Automated Starliner Flight Test

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boeing will refly an automated mission of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year after the near catastrophic loss of one of the crew vehicle in December.

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Xplore Sponsors Xtronaut’s Kickstarter Campaign, Donates Space Games to The Boeing Academy for STEM Learning

SEATTLE, March 26,2020 (Xplore PR) — Xplore Inc., a commercial space company providing Space as a ServiceTM, today announced sponsorship of the Kickstarter campaign for Xtronaut 2.0, an award-winning STEM-themed board game.

Xtronaut 2.0, a fun, multi-player game for players ages eight and up, teaches the real-world challenges of solar system exploration and educates players on how to plan missions to deep space. Xplore’s high-performance spacecraft, the XcraftTM, is a new feature in Xtronaut 2.0, which mirrors real-life space missions. Players can plan exploration missions and send the XcraftTM to the Moon, Mars, Venus, and asteroids, including Bennu, the target of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return mission. Spacecraft in the game can launch on SpaceX, ULA, and NASA-SLS rockets.

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Audit: SLS 33-43 Percent Over Budget, First Launch Slips to 2021

The first Artemis rocket stage is guided toward NASA’s Pegasus barge Jan. 8 ahead of its forthcoming journey to NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The latest audit of NASA’s troubled Space Launch System (SLS) finds the program is now even more behind schedule and over budget than previously thought, with the space agency failing to fully account to Congress for almost $6 billion in program costs.

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Startups Launch Innovative R&D on SpaceX CRS-20 to Improve Patient Care on Earth

Falcon 9 lifts off with the the cargo Dragon CRS-20 mission. (Credit: NASA webcast)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. March 6, 2020 (ISS National Lab PR)  – What if the next breakthrough to improve patient care on Earth came from research off of Earth—in space? Three biotechnology startups have launched research to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, tackling a broad range of patient care objectives—from next-generation diagnostic tools to drug discovery and improved devices for drug delivery.

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Boeing’s Troubled Starliner Flight: It’s All in the Numbers

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

To truly understand how problem plagued Boeing’s orbital flight test of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft was in December, all one needs to do is to look at the numbers.

  • 2: Boeing could have lost the automated spacecraft in flight on two separate occasions, once after launch and again before reentry;
  • 3: number of glitches (two software, one communications) that nearly resulted in the loss of the spacecraft;
  • 49: gaps in software testing where software bugs might have been found;
  • 61: corrective actions recommended by joint independent review team investigating the anomalies;
  • 410,000,000: Cost in dollars to Boeing if has to redo an automated flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) before conducting one with crew;
  • 4,200,000,000: Cost in dollars of what NASA is paying Boeing to develop and test Starliner.

On Friday, Boeing and NASA officials briefed the media on the results of an independent review team’s investigation of Starliner’s partially successful flight test just before Christmas.

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NASA Update on Orbital Flight Test Independent Review Team

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The joint NASA and Boeing Independent Review Team formed following the anomalies during the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program has completed its initial investigation.

The team was tasked with reviewing three primary anomalies experienced during the mission: two software coding errors and unanticipated loss of space-to-ground communication capability. During the investigation, the team identified several technical and organizational issues related to Boeing’s work. Separate from the independent team, NASA reviewed its role in the flight test and identified several areas where the agency can improve its level of participation and involvement into company’s processes.

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NASA, Boeing to Provide Outcome of Starliner Orbital Flight Test Reviews

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EST Friday, March 6, to discuss the outcome 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:

  • Douglas Loverroassociate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate 
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president at Boeing Space and Launch
  • Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • John Mulholland, vice president and manager of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Program

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA: Starliner Software Sign of Systemic Problems at Boeing

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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Boeing Update on Starliner Flight Test, Anomalies

The Orbital Flight Test Starliner being processed by technicians after return from White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing Starliner Program Update

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.

NASA: Software Errors Almost Led to Loss of Starliner Twice

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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:

  1. An error with the Mission Elapsed Timer (MET), which incorrectly polled time from the Atlas V booster nearly 11 hours prior to launch.
  2. A software issue within the Service Module (SM) Disposal Sequence, which incorrectly translated the SM disposal sequence into the SM Integrated Propulsion Controller (IPC).
  3. An Intermittent Space-to-Ground (S/G) forward link issue, which impeded the Flight Control team’s ability to command and control the vehicle.
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NASA, Boeing to Provide Starliner Orbital Flight Test Update

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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 Loverroassociate 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: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA ASAP: Starliner Software Problem Nearly Caused Catastrophic Failure

The NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) is meeting today. Members are saying the software problems with Boeing’s Starliner orbital flight test in December were more numerous and serious than initially reported.

If you recall, a software timing error resulted in the Starliner being unable to raise its orbit sufficiently to dock with the International Space Station. The spacecraft spent two days in orbit before landing safely at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

The nature of the second software bug is unclear.

NASA is trying to decide whether to require Boeing to fly the test again before placing crew on board for another flight test to the space station. Boeing has taken a $410 million charge against earnings in the event it needs to fly another mission.

GAO: Accelerating Commercial Crew Schedule Poses Risks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s plan to move up the start of operational crew missions to the International Space Station (ISS) by Boeing and SpaceX could pose serious safety risks, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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