NASA has revealed fundamental problems in the software Boeing

Katie Ramirez
February 11, 2020

The Starliner suffered a problem with its mission timing software shortly after reaching space on december 20, with the craft showing an elapsed time 11 hours different from the actual mission time. At that very moment, the flight control team was prevented from communicating with the spacecraft, and therefore lost control over it momentarily.

The recent report by panel member Paul Hill revealed that the newly developed software bug, which Boeing said was fixed while the Starliner was still in orbit, could have lead to the enormous firings that ultimately could have resulted in the catastrophic spacecraft failure.

According to NASA and Boeing in the Friday afternoon teleconference, the second software issue was caught just hours before it would have destroyed Starliner when it attempted to reenter the atmosphere.

An intermittent problem of direct space-to-ground link, which prevented the ability of the flight control team to command and control the vehicle. "We are already working on numerous recommended fixes including re-verifying flight software code".

NASA safety panel for review recommended that the agency should examine Boeing's software verification process before letting humans fly into space. This contract, issued by NASA, is aimed to minimize development costs through private investment and development, and actually includes two space transportation vehicles; the first is the previously mentioned Starliner, while the other is SpaceX's Crew Dragon.

"While both errors could have led to risk of spacecraft loss, the actions of the NASA-Boeing team were able to correct the issues and return the Starliner spacecraft safely to Earth", says the statement by NASA. Clearly, this is something to be addressed before NASA completely before they are ready to send their astronauts aboard a Boeing. NASA and Boeing have jointly provided an update on the investigation, which cites three errors in the CST-100 Starliner test flight. A "valve assignment error" has occurred in the software that controls the separation of the crew module and service module. "What would have resulted from that is unclear". This meant the on-site engineers had to work quickly to fix the time problem, and by the time they corrected it, they had used too much fuel to make it to the International Space Station (ISS) as planned. The team is also making "significant progress" on resolving communications dropouts that exacerbated problems early in the test flight.

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His mother is now in Britain. "He shows practically no symptom", said Fernando Simon, an official from Spain's health ministry. A message on the centre's answering machine indicated it had been closed for an "urgent operational health and safety reason".

Why it matters: Boeing is expected to start flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on Starliner this year, but the test flight issues could push back Boeing's first crewed flight. A decision will be made after a full investigation is completed by month's end, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

An investigation launched following the anomalous Starliner Orbital Flight Test has called for an Organisational Safety Assessment of Boeing. NASA announced in 2018 it would conduct such reviews of both Boeing and SpaceX, the other commercial crew company, after SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk was seen briefly smoking marijuana during a podcast.

These improper thruster firings could have been risky, as said by Boeing's Senior Vice President, Jim Chilton; "It can't be good when two spacecraft are going to contact".

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing's Starliner spacecraft onboard is viewed as it's rolled out.

"Our NASA oversight was insufficient" for the Starliner's software, Loverro said.

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