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#1 2019-12-20 22:04:40

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 1,800

Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

After a perfect launch on the Atlas 5 rocket, there was a guidance system error related to the clock onboard the spacecraft. After lots of smiley faces in spite of this failed mission, it seems that NASA is again putting the Nelsonesque blind eye to the telescope about another Boeing failure. IMHO, another flight test(on Boeing's nickel) should be carried out prior to a manned flight. Last time Boeing had a demonstration mission, the parachutes failed to deploy properly and a large cloud on Nitric Oxide from the propulsion module contaminated the landing site for some time.

Bottom line: Starliner isn't ready  for manned flight.

"Bridenstine declined to speculate whether Boeing would need to fly another uncrewed test flight, this time docking with the ISS, before flying crew. “I think it’s too early to make that assessment,” he said, citing the lack of knowledge on the root cause of the timer problem. Neither Chilton nor Stich said they immediately knew what fraction of the OFT mission objectives won’t be achieved.

However, Bridenstine would not rule out going directly to a crewed flight after this mission despite the problems encountered. “That’s something we’ve got to look at,” he said." Excerpted from Space News.

Last edited by Oldfart1939 (2019-12-21 15:22:32)

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#2 2019-12-21 08:27:34

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

I would agree not ready and yes to more test flights as well as more ground testing seems in order

original topic Cots status

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#3 2019-12-22 12:44:19

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

reposting:
Its about time that starline is going to fly.
boeing-cst-100-starliner-positioned-above-united-launch-alliance-atlas-v-nasa-cape-canaveral-hg.jpg

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space capsule is ready for its maiden voyage as early as Dec. 20, NASA officials said Thursday. The space agency said the capsule passed a flight readiness review Thursday. The review included dozens of managers and engineers from the space agency, Boeing and launch provider United Launch Alliance. The scheduled launch date is Dec. 20, but alternate dates because of potential delays go into the Christmas holiday, including Dec. 21, 23 and 25 through 28.

Launching on an Atlas V rocket.

Starliner is smaller than Dragon, which SpaceX adapted for human use after using it for years to send cargo to the space station. Starliner is 16.5 feet high when coupled with its service module. Crew Dragon is 26.7 feet high with its trunk.

Boeing holds a contract for two test flights and six missions to the International Space Station. Future Starliner missions depend on NASA's needs for station crews and commercial demand.

That is small but why are they only focusing on Nasa missions sales?

According to Boeing, Starliner is designed to fit up to seven people, but NASA missions will carry a crew of only four or five.
Three astronauts have been designated for Starliner's first missions: Mike Fincke, Nicole Mann and Chris Ferguson.
Boeing also plans to fly private passengers, selling an extra fifth seat on NASA missions. The company says potential customers include commercial and government-sponsored astronauts or private citizens flying as tourists.

Hopefully the price tag per seat will keep it filled

Unlike Crew Dragon or the Apollo-era capsules, Starliner won't land in the ocean. It has parachutes and airbags to drop it into desert landing zones at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, Willcox Playa in Arizona or at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Starliner crew modules are designed to fly up to 10 missions. Service modules are made for each mission.

Landing on land does make for recycling but what is the chances of the air bags failing and causing structural damage?

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#4 2019-12-22 12:45:03

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
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#5 2019-12-22 12:47:30

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

At this point though we can not even get off this rock to anything other than what is in LEO. So we will never graduate to planet hunting for a magma dome or vent to tap for energy anywhere else. That is sad that we can not get a rocket to orbit but for cargo ship....

As for a clock there is lots of ways one can be made but the electronic version have lots of failing points from bad coding to just using the wrong parts to start the machine running at a given clock rate to make the code work. I have seen digital engineers use an oscillator without its temperature compensation resistor cause units to fail until they reached a warm temperature. I have seen the wrong devide down of the master frequency cause to wrong cycle to make the counters output incorrect.

GW Johnson wrote:

Spacenut:

And yet I have owned very inexpensive Timex watches for 5 decades now,  that all kept very good time for many years,  before they quit.  That's both mechanical and electronic devices,  over that many decades.   

Maybe Boeing ought to buy their clocks from Timex.

GW

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#6 2019-12-22 12:48:29

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

tahanson43206 wrote:

For GW Johnson re #245

A report I ran across in the past day said that the issue with the timing was NOT mechanical. The software (apparently) fetched the wrong time from the Atlas.

I (personally) find it curious that the engineers working on the capsule system would have built such a dependency into their plans.  Considering the cost of the overall system, saving a couple of bucks by not having their own timer source seems surprising.

I'll bet that particular detail will be examined closely before the next flight.

(th)

So its a calculated time frame from launch of the rockets first stage to when the next stage takes over. This is not a time but fuel comsumption data for speed of flight number being passed so that momentum equations for burns are correct.

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#7 2019-12-22 12:56:37

SpaceNut
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#8 2019-12-22 15:32:14

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,164

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

I keep telling everyone that software complexity is real complexity, every bit as real as any mechanical device ever was.  Boeing and SpaceX have both experienced a variety of software failures and SpaceX has also experienced a number of hardware failures.  All of that can be overcome, but there's also a real price tag attached to it.  It doesn't matter if computerized control looks like "magic" to the untrained eye or not.  Everything that went wrong was a result of sophisticated / non-trivial computer software not being 100% perfect, despite all the testing conducted in simulations.  A computer simulation clearly can't and won't accurately replicate the actual flight conditions experienced in the objective world in all cases, despite our best attempts.  I see this all the time in my line of work.  The question that should always be asked is how many actual flight tests a particular computer program has been subjected to.  The answer to that question during the first flight test is always "zero".  As such, there will always be a "reality curve" to overcome.  Ideas about how things will work are great and are necessary starting point to interact with the real world, but then there's the real world and it doesn't care about how you think something should work.

The Boeing 737 MAX debacle was a combination failure that mixed the worst aspects of new software introduced at the behest of the FAA to try to preclude the requirement for retraining pilots on the pitch trim characteristics of a substantially modified 737 airframe, hardware with a well known and completely unavoidable failure mode (blockage of the pitot static tube with FOD) since it was in use before the computer age, and egregiously poor / nearly non-existent training regarding how to interpret the software feedback received in the cockpit.  Every computer program needs to be an aid to operation that has a completely manual reversion mode that doesn't require anything more sophisticated than completing an electrical circuit to accomplish.  Anything that doesn't require an electrical circuit is even more desirable for backup purposes.

So long as these new computer programs have manual override modes, which I would also question the hell out of if that override is also implemented in a software program, then it's not the end of the world.  That mandates having a well trained crew on board that understands the software.  I'd wager to say that that is almost never the case for these new computerized airliners and spacecraft.  The results of this test is precisely why we will ALWAYS need highly competent, skilled, and well-trained pilots to fly these high performance cutting-edge aerospace vehicles.  Naturally, that runs directly counter to the non-evidence-based assertion that we can put Joe Average into one of these new computer-controlled vehicles and somehow that untrained person will figure out how to deal with any potential problems that arise.

SpaceX's capsule exploded simply by firing its thrusters.  That was a completely unsurvivable event.  Boeing's capsule hasn't exploded yet, but I'm no more confident in their ability to meet the man-rating requirements than I am in SpaceX at this juncture.  If Boeing manages to get their capsule back on the ground in one piece, I'll have a little bit of my faith restored in these fancy new computerized contraptions.  That said, I also think another unmanned test is in order for both capsules to ensure that they don't explode, blow through all of their propellant from a computer glitch, or have some other previously unknown problem ground them.

I would also like to say that I'm not a fan of our government telling their contractors what to do and how to do it.  You get to specify one or the other, but not both.  I actually like the fact that SpaceX intended to use powered landings, even if that requires further development to provide the reliability of the system.

I would like NASA to have 3 dissimilar systems to provide assured civilian and military access to LEO:
SpaceX Dragon V2 using propulsive terrestrial or ocean landing with ascent via Falcon 9 or perhaps Falcon Heavy
Boeing Starliner using parachute and airbag terrestrial landing with ascent via Atlas 5 or Vulcan
Sierra Nevada Corporation DreamChaser using runway landing with ascent via New Glenn

It seems we can only afford to purchase 2 exploration class systems:
Lockheed-Martin Orion with parachute and ocean landing with ascent via SLS
SpaceX Starship with propulsive landing with ascent via BFR

It's taken years to get all of those systems operational and we're still working towards that goal.  The probability of having all of those systems fail at the same time after they're operational and subsequently losing our access to space is virtually nil.  Each provides unique capabilities.

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#9 2019-12-22 16:02:55

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

It has landed and the decoding of code will take place as sure as anyone can be of wanting to blame it on hardware and not on the software coding....
I agree that we need another to step up to the 2 exploratory class systems level with another vendor as the SLS is to expensive for each launch and the BFR reqires to many refills to be able to do anything real. Maybe Northrup Gruman will do more as well as the others to make it clear that the eggs we have are not going to work as they are.

These are the same airbags that were slated to go on Orion but the pork was to heavy...
ap_19356551339841_custom-0de0e93781542147b6b90b61efea892c317bd8a7-s1100-c15.jpg

The Sunday landing of the test flight – which did not include any crew members – concluded with three red, white and blue parachutes opening up and gliding into the Army's White Sands Missile Range.

ap_19356484725788-056723931bedc1b9d105ad3f470dff3e2db99484-s800-c85.jpg

Its going to be a late christmas as

The capsule was carrying holiday presents, clothes and food, cargo that was supposed to be dropped off at the International Space Station.

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#10 2019-12-22 17:28:31

kbd512
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Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,164

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

SpaceNut,

It's good to see that Boeing's capsule is still in one piece after returning to Earth, but now I want to see a successful in-flight abort from both SpaceX and Boeing and a successful ISS docking from Boeing before these capsules are certified for human use.  Those were the terms of the contracts and as a tax payer I want what my taxes paid for.  No excuses for why the testing criteria weren't met will satisfy me.  They knew what the terms were when they took our money.  By my count, SpaceX owes us 1 successful in-flight abort and Boeing owes us 1 successful in-flight abort and 1 ISS docking.  I'm not upset at all at either company and I'm pleased with the progress that they've made, but none of that changes the terms of the contract.  The same terms will apply to DreamChaser whenever SNC is ready for flight.

You know what else I want to know?

How is it that we don't have sufficient TDRS coverage to remotely command capsules headed towards ISS?

If Space Force has any useful role to play in the future, they'd better make damn sure we can at least communicate with our own spacecraft at all times.  There's no excuse that passes muster for endangering the most expensive research facility the world has ever known.

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#11 2019-12-22 17:39:23

tahanson43206
Member
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 1,804

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

For kbd512 re #10

Thank you for pointing out an immediate and valuable mission for the new force.  The mission (as I understand it) does not call for humans on site in the initial startup phase, but at least we are positioning the nation to move in that direction when the time comes, and it surely will.

Science Fiction writers have been exploring related scenarios for decades, so for readers exposed to those writings, the unfolding of the future will not surprise in general, although details are sure to do so.

For SpaceNut .... someone in the media made an incorrect report about the Boeing parachute landing.  Apparently they (or their source) thought Boeing was the first to land with parachutes on land in the modern era, but Russia has been doing that for decades, and Blue Origin has been doing the same in recent years.

It is doubtful any reader of the NewMars forum would have made that mistake, but since I can't complain to the media company, at least I can report the error here, where it has a better chance of being appreciated.

(th)

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#12 2019-12-22 18:19:53

kbd512
Moderator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 3,164

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

tahanson43206,

Edit:
Response moved by SpaceNut to the Space Force thread, so I'm truncating this post since it's drifting off-topic.

Last edited by kbd512 (2019-12-22 21:04:37)

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#13 2019-12-22 19:42:49

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 17,741

Re: Boeing Starliner unmanned orbital test flight

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