NASA announced Wednesday that its investigation of Boeing’s Starliner program has identified 80 issues that need to be addressed. These issues range from software issues to the company’s process of testing and validating its devices. Boeing’s “starliner” has yet to complete an unmanned test flight to the International Space Station.
After the Starliner failed to reach the International Space Station in previous unmanned tests — a clock failure caused the spacecraft to burn more fuel than it should — NASA and Boeing formed a team to study the “Starjet” project and find out where it needed to be repaired. The team has just completed their work and released a report that reveals many of the shortcomings of Boeing’s spacecraft.
Getting a manned spacecraft up to NASA’s safety and reliability standards is not easy, but Boeing appears to have made a serious mistake with its “starliner” problem. As NASA noted in its report, the team reviewing the spacecraft’s status found no shortage of potential problems. In fact, the agency said it had a total of 80 “recommendations” to address before Boeing resumed flight testing.
NASA noted that because of the sensitivity of the report — especially proprietary systems– because they are owned by Boeing, they cannot be described in depth, and it can only summarize the type of advice it provides to the company. Still, NASA offers a pretty good idea of where the “starliner” falls far short of expectations.
Testing and simulation: 21 recommendations, including the need for more hardware and software integration tests, the use of the maximum amount of flight hardware for end-to-end “run record” testing prior to each flight, the review of subsystem behavior and limitations, and the resolution of any identified simulation or simulation gaps.
Requirements: 10 recommendations, including evaluating all software requirements with multiple logical conditions to ensure test coverage.
Process and operational improvements: 35 recommendations, including change committee documents, increased participants in peer review and test data reviews, and increased participation of subject matter experts in key areas of security.
Software: 7 recommendations, including updating software codes and related artifacts to correct task-time timer times and service module disposition anomalies;
Knowledge acquisition and hardware retrofits: 7 recommendations, such as organizational modifications to the safety reporting structure, modification of independent verification and validation (IV and V) methods, and the addition of an external radio frequency (RF) filter to deny off-band interference.
But NASA said Boeing was already working on all the issues mentioned in the report, and said an “action plan” on those issues was in progress.