This is a followup to my post WTF Boeing? This is what happens when you think of yourself a stock value and not a technology company.

From Ars Technica:

NASA declares Starliner mishap a “high visibility close call”

No fucking shit.

After pondering the totality of issues that arose during a December test flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft this week, NASA chief of human spaceflight Doug Loverro said Friday that he decided to escalate the incident.

The $4.3 billion dollar rocket failed to make it to space because of testing shortcuts and he’s going to “escalate the incident.”

How about this:

I’m a PE.  Something I take a lot of pride in.  If I sign off something that isn’t safe because I cut corners, I get sued and could even go to jail for negligence.

How about we have something equivalent for C-Suite management.  If they rush testing or something, they get to go to prison too.  No golden parachute for the executive who says they need to skip a test to make a deadline.  He gets an orange jumpsuit.

Fuck it, I’m running for Congress at some point and I’m going to propose that law.

So he designated Starliner’s uncrewed mission, during which the spacecraft flew a shortened profile and did not attempt to dock with the International Space Station, as a “high visibility close call.” This relatively rare designation for NASA’s human spaceflight program falls short of “loss of mission” but is nonetheless fairly rare. It was last used by NASA after a spacewalk in 2013 when water began to dangerously pool in the helmet of astronaut Luca Parmitano.

Ooo… a “high visibility close call.”  Thems are fighting words.

How bout “Boeing fucked the dog while NASA held it by the collar so that we could make a timetable.”

About Luca Parmitano, he almost drowned in space.  Most people don’t realize how powerful of a force surface tension is when gravity is not there to overpower it.  A little leak caused water to cover his head.  The helmet didn’t need to fill up, just a thin film of water slowly engulfed his face, covering his nose and mouth.  He was heard gurgling on the coms in his suit.  Here’s the thing.  His suit leaked before and it wasn’t detected.

I want big wins in space for NASA.  I really do, from the bottom of my heart.

In the early days of the space race, we knew nothing.  We needed brave men to agree to sit on top of a converted ICBM and hope the best happened.  But it’s been 59 years since we launched Alan Shepard into space and 50 since we put Neil Armstrong on the moon.  We know a thing or two.  There are engineers at NASA whose grandfathers worked for NASA.

There is no justification for rush-to-launch and ignorant mistakes.

By declaring the Starliner mishap a “close call,” Loverro also formally opened a process during which the space agency’s Safety Office will investigate the organization elements that may have led to the incident—likely focusing on why NASA did not detect the errors in Starliner’s flight software.

Yes, tell me why?

Loverro said no decisions are close to being made on when Starliner will return to flight or whether Boeing will have to fly another uncrewed demonstration test flight before NASA astronauts fly on Starliner. The next step, he said, is for Boeing to prepare a “corrective action plan” to implement the review team’s findings, and that will include a schedule.

Slow the fuck down and test things properly.  What a concept.

NASA will evaluate that plan and then it may be in a position to decide whether another test flight is needed.

Yes, it is needed.  Emphatically yes.  Absolutely run another test.

Hopefully, this will get NASA to have a reevaluation of their current culture where the only cost was money and not lives.

One was needed after Challenger.  It seems that NASA has slipped back into that mentality.  If this gives NASA a proper course correction without astronauts plunging into the Atlantic to die on impact than it was worth the $410 Million.

If they choose to stay the course on how they do things, they are going to blow up astronauts on the launchpad.



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By J. Kb

5 thoughts on “Do you want another Challenger, because the point is to avoid another Challenger”
  1. From what little I know about this, I think there is a push from some people working in Government, and I mean NASA and the FAA, to ensure Boeing gets the bulk of the crewed missions. For whatever reason, I think there are those in government that do not like the fact that SpaceX has shown up the establishment. (More than once).

    The crewed modules is just as much of a space race as the USA/USSR was during the 50s/60s. It is not one of country versus country, but instead one of establishment against snot nosed startup.

  2. From one PE to another, I’ll ask a simple question – why not go to work for NASA and make the changes you wish to see happen?

    1. Do you have any idea how much I would love to go work for NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center?

      I’ve applied and I’ve been rejected.

      First, I’m not a systems engineer and that is what they hire the most.

      Second, my undergrad grades are less than a 3.0. I had 3.8 for my Ph.D. but as an organization NASA requires a 3.0 or better for the BS to be considered. Sure, that was 14 years ago and a different subject, but bureaucracy rules are bureaucracy rules.

      The Navy told me the same thing when I tried to get a job with them as a civilian engineer in the nuclear field.

      Now I’m trying to get in with the subcontractors. I’ve had this same conversation three times:

      “We can’t hire you since you don’t have aerospace experience.”

      “Can you hire me at a lower position so I can get aerospace experience, I have very close experience, so the learning curve will be short.”

      “We can’t do that, you have too much experience for an entry-level job.”

      It’s a Catch-22 that makes me feel like I’ll never get hired into aerospace.

      I want to make the changes I want to see happen, getting in the door has been the problem.

      1. Consider yourself lucky the Navy Nuke program didn’t hire you. I was a Radiological Control Technician for a civilian contractor during a hiatus from college. This was during the Rickover era, and trust me, while the job was enjoyable, the Navy bureaucracy and culture sucked.

  3. Sadly, one of the major problems that resulted from the “waste anything but time” philosophy of the Apollo era is that NASA turned into a pork farm.
    After the moon landing, they basically coasted on that success for the next few decades.
    Happily, commercial competition means they got to try and keep up.

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