It didn’t crash – but, courtesy of Boeing, we still need to worry…

NASA is reviewing Boeing Co.’s software engineering, and it doesn’t like what it sees.

Lurking behind 1 million lines of code for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lies a deficient development process that led to two software flaws during a failed test flight, the U.S. space agency said Friday. The “critical software defects” — either of which could have caused the uncrewed Starliner’s destruction — prompted NASA to open a broad review of Boeing’s quality control…

Boeing’s coding skills have been under intense scrutiny because of software implicated in two Max crashes that killed 346 people. NASA officials conceded that the high-profile problems of Boeing’s best-selling jet suggested the need for a broader look into the company’s culture — and why systems designed to find coding faults had failed.

The errors “could have led to risk of spacecraft loss,” NASA said, though engineers were able to compensate during the test flight and return the vehicle back to Earth undamaged.

Sooner or later, NASA is supposed to trust the lives of astronauts to go into outer space in a craft built by a company whose latest, greatest airplanes are something I wouldn’t fly in…to Chicago.

3 thoughts on “It didn’t crash – but, courtesy of Boeing, we still need to worry…

  1. Max Q says:

    “Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers” (Bloomberg, June 28, 2019) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-28/boeing-s-737-max-software-outsourced-to-9-an-hour-engineers
    “Boeing Engineering Crisis Started Long Ago” (Seeking Alpha, 1/15/20) https://seekingalpha.com/article/4316840-boeing-engineering-crisis-started-long-ago
    Summary:
    ● Boeing’s engineering crisis became visible to the public with the 737 MAX crashes, but has been ongoing for over a decade, affecting all developments.
    ● Many point at the McDonnell Douglas merger as Boeing’s rotation to squeeze out every dollar.
    ● Boeing should learn that safety is not a relative thing that you stick to when it pleases you and a commodity you trade when schedule risk needs to be mitigated.

  2. Tom Corbett says:

    “NASA Shares Initial Findings from Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test Investigation” (Commercial Crew Program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration press release 2/7/20) https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2020/02/07/nasa-shares-initial-findings-from-boeing-starliner-orbital-flight-test-investigation/
    “Boeing’s botched Starliner test flirted with ‘catastrophic’ failure: NASA panel” (Reuters UK 2/6/20) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-exploration-boeing/boeings-botched-starliner-test-flirted-with-catastrophic-failure-nasa-panel-idUSKBN20106A
    “NASA still must decide whether to make Boeing repeat the unmanned docking test before spacecraft can carry astronauts. Boeing recorded a $410 million charge last month to cover that possibility.
    “The panel has a larger concern with the rigor of Boeing’s verification processes,” said Hill, a former NASA flight director who now serves on the panel that advises NASA on safety issues. Speaking during the panel’s quarterly meeting on Thursday, Hill said the agency should go beyond merely correcting the cause of the anomalies and scrutinize Boeing’s entire software testing processes.”

  3. Red Handed says:

    “The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has opened a criminal investigation of a former top NASA official, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
    The grand jury investigation concerns communications between Doug Loverro, then the chief of human spaceflight for NASA, and Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s space and launch division. These discussions occurred early this year, during a blackout period when NASA was taking bids to construct a Human Landing System for the Artemis Moon Program. It is not permissible to interfere with a competition for government contracts.
    “Mr. Loverro, who wasn’t part of NASA’s official contracting staff, informed Mr.Chilton that the Chicago aerospace giant was about to be eliminated from the competition based on cost and technical evaluations,” the report states, citing unidentified sources. “Within days, Boeing submitted a revised proposal.”
    Loverro resigned from NASA in mid-May, a few weeks after NASA awarded three Human Landing Systems contracts: $579 million to a team led by Blue Origin, $253 million to Dynetics, and $135 million to SpaceX. Boeing and one other bidder did not receive awards.
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/08/nasa-official-may-face-criminal-investigation-for-contact-with-boeing/
    “Why did NASA’s human spaceflight chief Doug Loverro abruptly resign? We spoke to him. Here’s what he said.” (5/21/20) https://www.space.com/why-nasa-human-spaceflight-chief-doug-loverro-resigned.html

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