back to article Starliner: Boeing, Boeing... it's back! Borked capsule makes a successful return to Earth

Boeing's borked capsule, the CST-100 Starliner, successfully returned to Earth yesterday while engineers scrambled to work out what went wrong, and managers rushed to justify the truncated mission. The capsule triumphantly, and finally, left the Earth on Friday morning atop an Atlas V. However, things went badly wrong for the …

  1. iron Silver badge

    > we're probably in the 85 to 90 per cent range of our test objectives

    The last 20% of a project is always the hardest part so they're well into the tricky stuff but not out of the woods yet.

    Launch on a proven rocket is the easiest part of the mission. Landing safely is also largely a known quantity. I wouldn't let any contractor away with not proving the harder parts of finding, rendevous and docking with ISS, especially Boeing.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Just ask the Rusians. They used to use a docking computer supplied by one of the former soviet republics. They disliked this dependency on them and built their own. The only had one small problem with the docking computer: Docking.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        Coat

        The hardest part about docking computer fabrication is building one that can both dock and play the Blue Danube simultaneously.

        Mines the one with a Cobra in the pocket.

      2. John Jennings Bronze badge

        well.....

        They seem to be quite good at it now.

        over 80 progress flights alone, out of 126 to ISS, nevermind Mir and 4 salut space stations.

        Almost all of these flights were automatic - especially ISS. The nice thing about the russian modules is that they can be manually controlled if something does go wrong.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: well.....

          "The nice thing about the russian modules is that they can be manually controlled if something does go wrong."

          It was the manual control which WAS what went wrong and nearly killed everyone on MIR when it was tried.

          Inertia is unforgiving and judging speed/distance in space is very very hard

      3. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Actually, the problem was that they didn't build one. They just gave the Cosmonauts on Mir a joystick and monitor and told them to drive it themselves.

        Anyone who's ever flown a radio controlled model helicopter knows what happens the first time you fly "nose in" in anger.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      What you measure

      <rant>

      This is a major problem with MBAs and short-sighted management.

      You only improve what you measure, and up to the point you've checked the boxes.

      As history shows, management will most often stop short of "100%" - because that usually isn't the best ROI.

      That's not top shelf at all.

      For that kind of money and effort, we ALL deserve more - a lot more. Especially since this was the highest priced option, exceeding the cost of the Russians, and of Spacex.

      I don't want a partner who just checks the boxes - that's divorce time.

      Some vision, some desire to excel, to do the best possible, was expected. Not some kind of "this is just my job and I forget about it when I clock out" attitude. The CYA performance didn't help, it made it look even worse. It made Boeing's priorities clear, and they weren't 'shooting for the moon' at all.

      You only miss things like that if you weren't paying attention, which is always, or nearly, because you didn't care enough. Or even make it possible to pay attention easily. That video stream, lacking onboard anything at all, no onscreen telemetry, and once landed - horrible comms, obvious confusion, lots of people but no obvious direction for most of them - it all looked quite amateur even compared to the new kids on the block. Maybe they missed it due to lack of getting the most basic stuff right....

      How uninspiring.

      If my vote counted...I'd say drop this contractor, they've proved, and this isn't the first time, that they're not worthy. There's no competition when there's no failure possible. And in Boeing's eyes, the only possible failure is not getting paid again and again, which they've ensured politically, instead of via actual competence. That needs to end, here and elsewhere.

      I'll just leave that rant tag open for everyone...

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: What you measure

        Boeing is useful as competition for SpaceX, so I guess they still serve a function. Not that SpaceX seems to need much competition, anyway, with the overall goal of going to Mars before Musk is too old.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      A one time colleague of mine took an order for hardware from a customer. This was for stock that was sitting in the warehouse so should have been a quick ship aka a no brainer. However said colleague (I'll call him Bernard) had failed to state that it was to come from the UK warehouse when placing the order. An email from the fulfillment boss asking for clarification was ignored because Bernard didn't understand the issue and then went on Holiday. I was asked in his absence to fix everything because the client was in need of the stuff ASAP.

      Bernard returned to the office after his holiday to be summoned by the boss. His defence was that he'd done 'almost' everything correctly "90% right and that's not bad." The boss said unless the customer actually receives the items 90% is equal to zero. Commission was split 50-50 with myself and Bernard the latter complaining this wasn't fair. He shut up after another error was found with another order. He became known as Mr 90%

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Commission was split 50-50 with myself and Bernard the latter complaining this wasn't fair."

        I know some bosses who would make that 80:20 in your favour on Bernard's first complaint and 100% to you on the second, as you were the one who went above and beyond to rescue the order.

        1. PBXTech

          I've known bosses who would have given you 100% of the commission on the second screw-up...as well as Bernard's office as soon as he got his personal belongings out of it after being terminated.

  2. Spanners Silver badge
    FAIL

    Time Zones?

    All equipment should be set to UTC/GMT but without summer time.

    I have dealt with someone from the US who was permanently annoyed because nobody understood his local time. All I asked for was the offset!

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Time Zones?

      So someone didn't reset his clock from his last holiday in some Pacific island?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time Zones?

      That seems to be a perennial problem at our place of work too. They seem unable to comprehend how timezones or holidays work outside of the US... or they just don't give a damn and schedule the meeting anyway and expect you to be there.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Time Zones?

        Looks like they've used Apple calendar then.... Moving from one timezone to another always buggers up my calendar. Even more fun when the clocks go forwards or back as any recurring items tend to then end up an hour out... But only some of them.

        The wailing and gnashing of teeth involved constantly aggrieves me.

      2. southen bastard

        Re: Time Zones?

        Is there anything out side the USA?

        Its marked on the map as « here there be monsters« , should be the other way round

    3. Sven Coenye
      Coat

      Re: Time Zones?

      It was set to UTC, but then someone rebooted it to Windows 10.

      1. Beachrider

        Re: Time Zones?

        @Boeingspace announced that Starliner's clock was off by 11 hours. They haven't explained how it got so-far off. It isn't like the USA is in 11 time zones...

        1. JCitizen Bronze badge
          Go

          Re: Time Zones?

          davenewman got it! But the US spans 9 times zones as well - when you include Hawaii.

    4. davenewman

      Re: Time Zones?

      Baikonur cosmodrome is in GMT+6, Florida in GMT-5. Difference = 11 hours.

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Calypso?

    More like Apocalypso !!!!

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Calypso?

      It's funny how the consumer society impacts name. To me Calypso reminds, in order:

      1) The nymph who kept Ulysses seven years on her island (poor lad....)

      2) Cousteau's research ship (which takes her name from 1)

      3) One of the moon of Saturn (as above)

      I didn't even know it became a drink.

      1. NerryTutkins

        Re: Calypso?

        For some reason, I always think of this

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYOBZ3Seeio

        Those crazy UKIP guys. They sure know how to organize a party (of the booze and fighting kind, not the political kind, obviously).

        But to be fair to Mike Read, casual racism and hatred of foreigners is pretty lightweight stuff considering what most of his BBC Radio chums got up to.

      2. OssianScotland Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Calypso?

        Depending on your reading habits, you missed out a fictional frigate from the Napoleonic Wars

        Thank you, yes, with Dudley Pope's complete works in the pocket please

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Calypso?

      Boeing: Working for the Yankee dollar.

      Make mine a lemonade Rum and Coca Cola

  4. macjules Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

    Never mind that the clock didn't work or that the capsule failed to actually dock.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

      Should have just left it in the hangar.

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

        "Should have just left it in the hangar."

        At least, that way, we know that the bloody thing would be safe.

    2. Major N

      Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

      How long before the conspiracy theorists use its cleanliness to claim that it didn't go into space at all, that is was all just a hoax, perpetrated by Lizard Queen Liz and her henchreptiles?

    3. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

      Is there any video of the landing, or Boeing just put there a mock-up while searching for the real capsule?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

        You joke, but!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_747#Entry_into_service

        (The maiden flight aircraft was swapped out while still taxing on the runway, They sent everyone back inside for "delays", and food... when an engine failed. Then IIRC to none of the passengers or news reporters knowledge, they quickly painted the second aircraft to match, and waited for the paint to dry)

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

          @TechnicalBen - were there drinks with that food... from your wiki link, "Finding a substitute delayed the flight by more than six hours to the following day". After six hours of drinking, they would've been quite relaxed when boarding.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

      I find it quite a little surprising how much NASA are jumping to Boeings defence when they weren't quite so supportive of the SpaceX hiccough. You'd expect NASA to be most supportive of the best value for money supplier, and currently that looks like being SpaceX. I understand NASAs need to support at least two suppliers because eggs all in one basket etc, but I get the sense they prefer Boeing to SpaceX.

      1. Black Betty

        Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

        That's because you fail to understand how aerospace/military spending works in the USA, which is basically spend as much as possible as often as possible to as many as possible. SpaceX's low cost, one shop business model is incompatible with this goal.

        1. jason 7 Silver badge

          Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

          Yep $770 billion goes to the military.

          SpaceX is pretty much irrelevant. Just there to make the thing look 'competitive'.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked

        "I get the sense they prefer Boeing to SpaceX"

        NASA (and US military) administrators form cushy relationships with contractors and traditionally retire to well-paid jobs in those contractors. This has led to some extremely.... "unhealthy" relationship webs and familial connections (meaning that NASA admins giving jobs to SpaceX are facing the prospect of taking jobs away from members of their own extended family - quite literally)

        SpaceX's vertical integration doesn't allow for such things. It's healthy in terms of competition, but the USA has had problems with empire building and corruption for a very long time - meaning there are a lot of glass ceilings and walls to crash through.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alien

    eleven hours off on the clock

    I've heard of time dilation in space travel but that seems, um, extreme...

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: eleven hours off on the clock

      Ops maybe we shouldn't have touched that dial.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: eleven hours off on the clock

      Acceleration during takeoff affected the pendulum...

      1. RobThBay

        Re: eleven hours off on the clock

        Or the acceleration caused the sand to flow through hourglass quicker than expected.

  6. Major N

    Anyone else think it looks like a decapitated R2D2?

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      beep bloop burr

  7. Alister Silver badge
    FAIL

    In the briefing, Chilton said he reckoned that the team were in the "low 60s" in terms of percentage of mission goals at first glance. However, he went on to say, once all the data had been retrieved following the capsule's return to Florida "we're probably in the 85 to 90 per cent range of our test objectives."

    Yeah... No.

    Your job was to deliver a payload to the ISS. You didn't. That's a FAIL!

    As in 0%.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The Space Shuttle Chalenger flight was 85-90% successful, except for may solid booster phase of the launch

      1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Oh, you mean the last one... :-/

      2. Apriori

        No it was definitely nearer 99%, all the parts got back to Earth. Just not necessarily in the right order.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      umm, no

      No, their job was to run a test mission profile and collect data. As long as they were on their way, they were dropping off some supplies. You don't test things just to show they work, you test to discover what can go wrong. In this case, it sounds like a crewed mission would have been given instructions along the lines of "switch CRM-114 to aux" and they'd have continued on their way.

      Let's cover some items they did on this mission (overly simplified):

      * vehicle assembly

      * payload loading/checkout

      * fueling

      * launch

      * staging

      * tracking the vehicle

      * engine shutdown

      * communications while in orbit

      * maneuvering (successful, but exhausted propellant due to issues previously noted)

      * de-orbit maneuvers

      * heat shield performance

      * parachute performance

      * airbag deployment

      * data collection on physiological stresses future astronauts will experience.

      Let's cover what they didn't do:

      * rendezvous with ISS

      * dock with ISS

      * depart ISS

      In the long run, it may be a bad thing that this mission went so well. Space travel has a history of high-profile underestimations of risk, to put it mildly.

      1. Lt.Kije

        Re: umm, no

        Pedant.

        This was clearly a fail.

        You might as count "it burned it's rocket fuel" to pad your percent success stat.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: umm, no

        They did manage all of those things, but as per their contract with NASA, they have to go to the ISS and show that they can dock etc. before they can start actually carrying crew there.

        So unless NASA waive that part of the contract (which is possible), Boeing are going to have to run this whole mission all over again.

        If you try to do something, but fuck it up and you have to do it all over again, then that fits the standard definition of "failure".

      3. KBeee

        Re: umm, no

        A bit like the old medical joke -

        The operation was a complete success, but the patient died.

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Meh

      Gotta agree to disagree. SpaceX have had similar successes and failures. Just due to either corporate slowness to adopt new untested companies/craft, SpaceX usually launched their own payloads (Cheese or a Tesla) and not always supply/sat missions.

      1. Long John Brass Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Gotta agree to disagree

        True; However whatever faults Elon may have. He's pretty consistent with his statements about risks etc. "High pucker factor" and "<sarcasm>That went well</sarcasm>" when something RUDs.

        It's one of the reasons I think that the established aerospace companies like to ridicule him for not being professional enough. Then we have Boeing :(

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Exactly this.

        There is NO WAY WHATSOEVER that NASA would have put a payload on a similar SpaceX test launch - or let it anywhere near ISS on the first flight.

  8. Colemanisor

    Boeing are just so successful with their software

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Did Boeing write the software or did they sub-contract it out...?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        The software was designed to make it fly exactly like an Apollo capsule, so there was no need to recertify or retrain.

        Unfortunately Apollo didn't dock with the ISS

        1. Anonymous John

          The CSM docked with the LM 16 tmes, Skylab 3 times, and a Soyuz once

          1. LDS Silver badge
            Devil

            Probably Boeing didn't update all the lines of code saying 'Skylab', then, and the capsule was still searching for it...

  9. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    Titanic

    Despite the iceberg, we believe we're probably in the 85 to 90 per cent range of our test objectives.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Titanic

      If it was Ryanair they would still be showing the Titanic as delayed

  10. steamnut

    Was this the last straw?

    Today, we see that Boeing's co-chief CEO (need two really?) Dennis Muilenburg has resigned. Maybe this latest failure was just one too many. Any bets on how long the other CEO will last?

    1. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: Was this the last straw?

      Even the CEO can be a scapegoat. Getting rid of one doesn't automatically fix corporate culture problems. It might frighten a few managers.

      IMO, leading from ahead with vision is better than pushing from behind with fear, but I suppose you have to start somewhere.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Was this the last straw?

        It's not clear this is a CEO level failure in the same way as the 737MAX

        Rocket engineering is hard, sometimes things don't work.

        Unless the design called for 3 clocks and senior management said, make it 1 and we can charge NASA for an upgrade later

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Was this the last straw?

      Not resigned: fired. At lease this time they managed to clock someone off correctly.

      Mine's the one with the P45 in the pocket.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Was this the last straw?

        Perhaps Boeing should employ this particular Senator as Director of Testing...

        Senator says he "would walk before I got on a 737 Max"

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50893490

        (ref accompanying picture)

    3. hittitezombie

      Re: Was this the last straw?

      Unlikely to be related. Space is hard and failures are expected.

      What will matter is how Nasa will cosy up to Boeing and mark this as a complete success. They act a lot harsher against SpaceX.

    4. Black Betty

      Re: Was this the last straw?

      Yes the buck stops with him. However, what of those who originally proposed the MCAS system, who implemented it, or who signed off on it as ready for deployment/fit for purpose? Those heads should be the ones rolling or alternately the arses booted with great vigor.

      Boeing has gotten away with dual redundancy instead of industry best practice tripple for as long as it has because, on Boeing aircraft the human pilots have traditionally had ultimate control. Presented with an instrument showing an obviously wrong reading, the pilot would simply ignore it, and use the good one, or another instrument from which the necessary information could be extrapolated. eg the artificial horizon in the case of faulty angle of attack sensors. Worst case he could usually look out the window and fly entirely by the seat of his pants.

      MCAS simply took it's input from one of two sensors and without any error checks (AOA disagree was a separate optional extra which did nothing but light a lamp on the instrument panel) or cross referencing with other sensors, did it's thing relying entirely on feedback from its inputs to decide when to stop. If the sensor providing that input was jammed or otherwise returned data that did not coincide with reality, it kept on doing its thing until the elevator trim ran up against the physical stops, and overrode every attempt the pilots made to correct the situation.

      What I find truly frightening, is that Boeing aircraft have a number of systems where the automation preferentially takes its input from just one sensor and require specific pilot action to force the use of the backup. MCAS is not the only system that has resulted in Boeing aircraft flying themselves into the ground. Faulty ground proximity radar has caused a number of planes to lose engine power during landing. Fortunately pilots have managed to recover in most cases, but not always. Turkish Airlines B738 stalled and crashed on landing in 2009.

      I strongly suspect a thorough critical review of Boeing's avionic systems would find an uncomfortably large number of systems where a single failed component could potentially lead to a crash if a pilot failed to take the proper corrective actions. MCAS made those two crashes inevitable because the system overrode pilot discretion entirely.

    5. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      (need two really?)

      And then people complain Boeing doesn't understand redundancy...

  11. sbt Silver badge
    Stop

    Not reassured by the easy, obvious nature of the problem

    If it was so easy to notice and easy to fix, it should never have happened. I'd forgive some weird anomaly resulting from conditions in space or velocity that can't be tested on the ground. Not this.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Not reassured by the easy, obvious nature of the problem

      We’re not getting the whole truth, I think that’s fairly clear. My vast experience in the field of obfuscating a paucity of excellence says that a defense related system is the actual culprit, but we’ll never hear the actual details. This thing wasn’t landing at White Sands to celebrate the new National Park there.

  12. Anonymous Tribble

    So basically the timer computer got fed up with the docking computer asking "Are we there yet?" and said "Yes, we're sodding there, ok?"

  13. Brangdon Bronze badge

    Normalisation of deviance

    The key phrase here is "normalisation of deviance". That's what reports blamed the Space Shuttle disasters on, and that's what's happening here if Boeing is allowed to continue despite their several failures. It means unexpected things are going wrong but they're ignoring it because no-one died.

    1. First Light

      Re: Normalisation of deviance

      Unfortunately Boeing also ignored/minimized it when people did die - see LionAir crash. I guess they were mostly Indonesians so who cares? (Sarcasm, obvs.)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Normalisation of deviance

        You can hardly expect the FAA to worry about dead foreigners

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Stop

    I have a horrible feeling

    ... that this will be bulldozed through to save face, with a very possible risk of death.

  15. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Boeing 737

    The 737 Max is well over 99% successful. All of its 1000's of systems work perfectly. Apart from the MCAS.

  16. Anonymous John

    11 hour timing error

    The launch countdown was due to start 7:16pm EST Thursday and the launch was 6:36am EST Friday. Approx 11 hours, and I can't believe that was just a coincidence.

    You read it here first.

  17. ma1010 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Government Doublespeak

    Don't know if it's true (I wasn't there), but I heard that once the Air Force tested a missile by launching it from a plane. The missile came off the rail, the engine failed to ignite, and the missile did a ballistic fall to Earth. The test was termed a "Qualified Success." Well, they DID get it to come off the rail all right, but the only other thing that worked right was gravity, which the contractors couldn't take much credit for.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Government Doublespeak

      Out of the entire Universe they scored a direct hit on one tiny unregarded little planet

    2. OssianScotland Silver badge

      Re: Government Doublespeak

      This would be the same as the USAF claiming a constant 100% bombing accuracy - their munitions invariably hit the ground.

  18. John 104 Silver badge

    "Chilton also called out how pristine the capsule looked following its 1258 UTC landing at White Sands in New Mexico on 22 December"

    Are they sure it was 1258UTC? Perhaps it was 01:58?

  19. werdsmith Silver badge

    This is why we test.

  20. Ben 56

    Exactly how this happened remains unclear at this early stage

    Actually I had an idea and posted this on the earlier article:

    Officially it's been stated the clock was 11 hours out, this discounts the UTC - EST difference theory but not yours.

    Perhaps it went like this:

    After take off, the clock would have counted 36 minutes, i.e. 00:36 if written as a timer, but this was actually assumed to be "12:36" when written as an AM/PM clock or date time type that held timezone (which was subsequently ignored or somebody stupidly used a toString parser) as the value was taken from an onboard RTC, an API to retrieve the value used this value type (as opposed to the engineer using the epoch milliseconds calculation).

    The onboard clock correction/precision/sync software was likely expecting 00:36 minutes but told when attempting to be sync'd with "hey my booster clock says it's been a little over 12 hours from launch, not 36 minutes", i.e. exact time correction cannot be applied as the difference is too great and the validity range was meant to be within 1 hour, or within the first hour of takeoff, thus any value 11 hours previous to the one given would have worked.

    The 1 hour validity range is (IIRC) exactly how Microsoft's Windows NTP updates used to work, e.g. when correcting time from a default dead CMOS battery value it would fail due to significant difference.

  21. Astrohead

    Welcome back Don Jefe

    Can I just welcome back an old commentard - Don Jefe - after an absence of 5 years.

    I always found your posts interesting. Glad to see you are back. You have been missed.

    Regards.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Welcome back Don Jefe

      Was amanfrommars was keeping him prisoner?

      Slightly bored minds need to know

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Welcome back Don Jefe

      Thanks! I’ve just been busy. I had to clear my stuff out of Tranquillitatis before it gets crowded.

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Pangasinan Philippines
    Facepalm

    Some tick boxes are larger than the others

    "we're probably in the 85 to 90 per cent range of our test objectives."

    See title

  24. stuartnz

    A done deal?

    As many have mentioned, the whole point of testing is to find flaws before they become fatal flaws, and fix them. By that definition, SpaceX too has definitely had its share of successful tests. So far, so good.

    But, am I the only one who thinks that NASA's comments and rosy assessment of the results make it sound like the decision on who goes first has already been irrevocably made, with no chance of it being changed? If that is so, I'm not sure i'd be feeling very reassured were I one of the "lucky" ones chosen for the inaugural flight

    1. Black Betty

      Re: A done deal?

      The difference is that most of SpaceX's problems have shown up when pushing at the boundaries of knowledge and engineering capabilities. Almost all of Boeing's screwups have occurred because no one bothered to ask "What happens if.the data is faulty?"

      1. stuartnz

        Re: A done deal?

        No argument here, exactly the opposite actually.

        I'm saying that NASA's spin on this sounds like they're going with Boeing anyway, no matter what. Which sounds troubling.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: A done deal?

          The preferential treatment Boeing receives is no coincidence. Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator, is a presidential appointee whose aerospace expertise is as a Congressman where he pushed a space policy that feeds Boeing & Friends billions. He pushed for greatly changing the way the government approaches civil and defense activities in space (Space Farce for example).

          Lockheed-Martin rewarded him for his work in Congress with his NASA appointment and now he’s working on his next paycheck as consultant with Boeing (although I think Lockheed may up their bid if Bridenstine manages the Boeing debacle well).

          My point is, SpaceX isn’t playing at that level and they’re never going to get a fair shake until they do. The whole thing is disgraceful.

  25. not.known@this.address Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    As any techno-thriller fan knows...

    ...the actual events in orbit don't matter - once you've proved you can loft those shiny little tungsten darts or radioactive suitcases high enough, the rest is just window-dressing.

    In fiction, how many times have the Bad Guys proved the launch phase - the important bit - works but then something goes "wrong" and the rest of the mission "fails" - it might not have met up with the ISS but Boeing have proved they can get a capsule up and back in one piece, and landing it in the middle of nowhere while it's dark makes it difficult for the casual observer to be sure nothing "fell off" all accidental-like near a nice bunch of chaps who work just outside Washington...

    (Actually, it's a pretty safe bet that this, like the works of Mr Clancy , Mr Custler etc is completely the product of a febrile imagination but I retain the option to the movie rights!)

  26. Potemkine!

    Want to transform a failure in success? Call PR! Whenever you need somebody to lie, PR is ready

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Standard Boeing...

    > ... it's not something that is going to prevent us from moving forward quickly.

    We've seen how this goes. Especially at Boeing. :(

    Perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to "move forward quickly" until their internal management culture is fixed?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are they even thinking it's ok to send people up till they iron out these issues?.

    If they insist on a "manned" flight before then, send the Boeing top brass.

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