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Tugger
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Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Sat Oct 09, 2021 10:24 pm

So it's official the next possible test flight has been delayed into 2022:
https://www.theverge.com/2021/10/9/2271 ... -nasa-2022
NASA has officially pushed back the launch of its Orbital Flight-Test 2 until next year, as it continues to work on an oxidizer isolation valve issue on Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the agency announced.

The agency said in a blog post that it’s continuing to assess potential launch windows for the mission: “The team currently is working toward opportunities in the first half of 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest and space station availability,” according to the post.

Steve Stitch, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, added that it was “a complex issue,” affecting parts of the spacecraft that aren’t easy to access, which has required “a methodical approach and sound engineering to effectively examine.”


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Francoflier
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:09 pm

Thanks for opening the thread.

The new launch date now puts Starliner in competition with Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser's first flight which, ironically, lost to it and Space X's Dragon for the Commercial Crew Program...

The project that was selected because NASA "considered Boeing's proposal to be the strongest of all three proposals in terms of technical approach, management approach and past performance, and to offer the crew transportation system with most utility and highest value to the government." may now only do its second (test) launch years late, potentially after the spaceplane (turned cargo shuttle) that lost on grounds of inexperience and riskiness. :innocent:

Of course, there's no way of predicting what would have happened, and a lot of what will happen depends on the availability of the Vulcan Centaur, itself at risk of being further delayed thanks to another Space laggard.
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:57 pm

I welcome this thread, too!

Francoflier wrote:
The project that was selected because NASA "considered Boeing's proposal to be the strongest of all three proposals in terms of technical approach, management approach and past performance...


That's an old, and very fatal human flaw. People think that past performance predicts future performance.

But there is absolutely no way one can predict the future based on the past. The only thing that can do so is a) the actual state of Boeing right now, coupled with b) the actual forces prevalent in the Boeing company right now. Then you know which direction Boeing is going. Even SpaceX will be a dinosaur and lose out to a newcomer if they don't take constant care of their business culture.
 
FGITD
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Thu Oct 14, 2021 4:47 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
That's an old, and very fatal human flaw. People think that past performance predicts future performance.


The interesting is that even with the blistering pace of innovation during the late 1950s/60s, they still didn’t always use the same contractor for the same parts of a spacecraft. Mercury and Gemini were built by McDonnell, but then the Apollo CSM was Rockwell and the LM was Grumman

Starliner is the living proof that you can’t simply assume a company will be good because they’ve always been good. And also the proof that like Musk himself frequently points out…space is hard. Boeing has a solid track record (…relatively speaking) and they still struggle with a manned spacecraft because it’s so vastly different from anything else they’ve built.
 
GDB
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:08 pm

Given how controversial the whole COTS program was, especially in Congress, one of the ‘big beasts’ with all their lobbyists had to be included for the whole program to stand a chance.
Nevermind the booster is non resueable so more expensive to launch, though using a well proven one was seen to reduce risk and costs that way.
I seriously doubt that NASA thought the upstart Space X would beat them back then, so the likes of Dream Chaser in it’s manned form did not really stand a chance regardless of merit.

Now? At least two and a half years after the Dragon’s first manned flight until Starliner (another dopey name like the 787 Dreamliner), before any prospect of a manned ‘Starliner’ flight.
 
texl1649
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:27 pm

The thing is…a capsule mainly has two chief challenges; surviving in a vacuum, and more significantly surviving re-entry safely. The Starliner doesn’t really struggle at that, it’s more like an MCAS-related challenge where the software/easy stuff is all kinds of poorly engineered/integrated/tested.

FGITD you are right Apollo was a real mix of different contractors, and frankly that is part of why it was shut down, the numbers/data crunchers figured out that it was a bit of a miracle no one had died (other than on the launch pad) thru 12. The Starliner has no similar parallel. It’s basically all Boeing all the way. (Which, of course, isn’t really proving to be a good thing…)
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Fri Oct 15, 2021 7:58 pm

The focus on Starliner's valve issues is focused on environmental moisture interacting with the propellent, which corroded the metal:

https://spacenews.com/starliner-valve-i ... ropellant/

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was within hours of launch on its second uncrewed test flight in early August when stuck valves in the spacecraft’s propulsion system forced a launch scrub that has turned into a delay that will extend well into next year.

“It was a tough pill to swallow,” John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of the commercial crew program at Boeing, said of the delay in a recent interview. The company had worked for a year and a half to correct software problems that cut short the first uncrewed test flight, called Orbital Flight Test (OFT), in December 2019.

“We had done a lot of testing on the software. We had gotten really comfortable with that. This kind of hurt because it wasn’t something we had expected,” he said.

Boeing is continuing to investigate what caused 13 valves to stick in the closed position. The leading cause is that nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) propellant, leaking through the valve, reacted with moisture and created nitric oxide, corroding the valve.
 
ThePointblank
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Re: Boeing Starliner ... gets its own thread

Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:01 am

Two of Starliner's valves have been removed and sent to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama for further analysis, per what was reported in a media briefing between Boeing and NASA:

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/10 ... f-of-2022/

NASA and Boeing officials said Tuesday that they have successfully removed two valves from the Starliner spacecraft and have shipped them to Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama for further analysis.

The forensic examination—the two valves will be inspected with a variety of techniques, including a CT scan—is part of Boeing's ongoing effort to diagnose the "stuck" valve issue that caused an abort of Starliner's uncrewed test flight on August 3. With less than five hours remaining in the countdown to launch, during a routine procedure, 13 of the 24 valves that control the flow of dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer through the service module of the spacecraft would not cycle between closed and open.


Boeing's chief engineer has already indicating what is the leading hypothesis on why the valves won't work; at some point during the 46-day period when the vehicle was fueled—and when the valves were found to be stuck—humidity must have gotten into the spacecraft. The moisture combined with the oxidizer and created nitric acid, which is highly corrosive, and likely caused a failure in the valves, causing them to get stuck.

Boeing and NASA are targeting an early 2022 launch for Starliner's second flight test, with the earliest possible crewed test sometime in either late 2022, or early 2023. In the meantime, NASA has already moved to negotiate with SpaceX for additional crewed Dragon missions to the ISS in case SpaceX completes their contracted 6 missions before Starliner even gets off the ground.

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