BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) — A recent failed test flight by Boeing shows flaws in the traditional software development process, and NASA plans to use SpaceX’s experience in software development,media reported. In December, Boeing’s “Starliner” made its first test flight and failed to dock with the International Space Station as planned and return early.
NASA recently completed an independent review of the mission and said on Tuesday it would step up oversight of manufacturers’ repairs.
The review team made a total of 80 recommendations, about half of which related to how Boeing and NASA should address software development and system testing.
NASA’s endorsement of SpaceX’s software development approach is another example of Musk’s company leading Boeing in the space race. The agency has contracts with both companies to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. But only SpaceX has done just that. On May 30 this year, the company successfully sent two astronauts to the Orbiting Laboratory of the International Space Station.
Kathy Lueders, NASA’s deputy director for manned spaceflight, said in a telephone interview that SpaceX’s software engineering approach requires more developer “ownership” to ensure that the code works as expected when integrated into a larger system.
“Software capabilities really drive the overall capabilities of your system,” Ludes said. “”We kindofly broke the way we did things in the silos.”
Boeing, like NASA, uses a more traditional approach, in which software engineers build, test, and deliver products to other teams.
Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial manned program manager, said that because SpaceX’s software process is novel to NASA, NASA is more regulated than Boeing. He said NASA has added more staff to the Boeing software team to strengthen the review as it fixes a mission failure last December.
Boeing plans to conduct the second crewless test flight of the interstellar plane later this year. NASA officials say it’s too early to determine a possible launch date.