I'd feel very reassured if I was riding starliner and they announced the issue "might" cause an unrecoverable tumble, but also maybe not.
Perhaps a bit callous, but a Max crash is much easier to come back from than killing astronauts.
I think it is important to not unfairly weight the failure found in the re-entry programming. Everything I have read on it indicated it could
have lead to a LOV, not that it would have absolutely done so.
A minor difference perhaps since such a flaw is damning and cannot be allowed and, more critically, should have been found during the software development process, not while it was in orbit and about to perform that very maneuver.
Anyway, just me nitpicking but I just am seeing so many instances making a definitive statement where it doesn't actually apply.
There was a not so insignificant chance that the service module would have impacted the capsule, and bad things generally happen when two spacecraft collide in space. And it was only caught because of the initial problem that lead them to miss the ISS rendezvous. Imagine if the initial issue didn't happen, and the service module did collide with the capsule during reentry, causing a catastrophic mission failure. Or it was not caught until astronauts were flying onboard.
The bigger picture here is that test flight ended in failure to accomplish the ISS rendezvous, almost resulted in catastrophic failure, and the most recent press call said there were multiple process escapes. And when the spacecraft was back safely on solid Earth, when questioned by the media, Boeing took the position of "no other issues, nothing to see here", when in reality, there were two more very serious issues that happened during the flight. It just shows that Boeing cannot be trusted when they made that statement because they very well damn knew there were issues, and chose not to immediately disclose them.
Looking back even further, one has to wonder about Boeing's capabilities to effectively manage a critical program like this; we've seen with Starliner two critical software issues, an issue with comms, and the issue with the parachute during testing that got blamed on a missing pin. Are these problems just one-off quality control issues, or do they speak to a more serious and potentially dangerous issue over at Boeing, indicative of a systemic problem, leaving many things to fix? Now, when you start to look at other high profile Boeing programs (the 737 MAX issues, and the KC-46's issues), you really have to wonder.
Oh yes, I get that, as I noted it really was more of a nit-pick due to the severity of the consequences had the possibility of it become reality. That is, as you both point out, absolutely not acceptable . So I fully understand there is no comfort in, and no allowance granted for "could happen". It simple is unacceptable.
Interestingly SpaceX's initial development model was more accepting of "could happen" and they threw lots into space and developed their landing ability based a lot on this. They iterated and reiterated constantly between launches and even during missions. We just forget about that now as they appear to have a well matured process and team in place. Musk constantly touted that failure could very well happen with numerous launches and missions. Of course now they are taking human lives into space and not just cargo, so that cannot be done.
But we all know, or should know, that failure is always a very real option during any space mission as we are still in our infancy as a space-faring species (even though we may think our space capabilities are now really mature, they're not),
As to Boeing and the question: Are they really capable and as good as we have thought in the past?
Well they constantly pushed schedules to the right and constantly delayed and needed additional funding for development etc. (All space contrctors did, SpaceX included). I think we are now seeing that they are maybe not that great but in the past didn't have a rabid dog chasing them, snapping at their heels, forcing them to move forward without the easy ability to call "time out" while they rechecked, and re-ran, and retested everything to catch all their errors. Now doing that can mean the loss of the entire program to a competitor and a complete loss of that entire capability going forward.
Space is hard..... I think we may be seeing that competition is harder....
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Productivity isn’t about getting more things done, rather it’s about getting the right things done, while doing less. - M. Oshin