They'll install AI-controlled sledgehammers on each valve, rebrand the capsule as StarlinerMAX - and ... LIFT-OFF!
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, will not fly until the first half of next year at the earliest, as the manufacturing giant continues to tackle an issue with the spacecraft’s valves. Things have not gone smoothly for Boeing. Its Starliner program has …
There's a reason why Grumman was known to be able to build sturdy planes that could work on carriers at sea for a long time... maybe the fact that Boeing no longer had a plane on a carrier since the 1920s meant they forgot what happens when you choose the wrong materials in such situations?
How is spacex intel? spacex at least tries to innovate and compete. intel looks a lot more like the old dominant players in the business happy to keep selling people more of the same until someone comes along and starts to eat their business (like AMD sometimes does). And intel has made plenty of flops in terms of design (pentium 4, iAPX 432, itanium, etc, not to mention failing to get new process nodes to work while their competitors catch up). intel reminds me of boeing these days. They think they know everything better than everyone else and then things go wrong, but they manage to fix it eventually and claw their way back.
So no spacex is not like intel.
Boeing being like IBM would be a better metaphor.
Been around forever, used to making very expensive products for governments and massive enterprises, and these days, well past their best.
Also, there's the now (very) out-of-date phrases: "None ever get fired for buying IBM", and "If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going!".
The big problem with KT88's is not the valves its the bloody transformers you need to use.
I used to build and maintain AF and RF gear using valves. Used some KT88's to make a uni student radio station in NZ in the 70s.
Put my back out moving it around.
fortunately I found a great place online to buy transformers (replacements for guitar amps anyway) for tube(valve) amplifiers, like 6L6 and KT88 (and other) power stages, even Hammond brand (but mostly amp replacements).
And I bet those transfomers won't corrode in Florida summertime weather, unlike Boeing's rocket fuel valves.
I spent the summer in Orlando back in the early 80's when I went to U.S. Navy Nuclear Power School there. Hot, humid, and gnats spiraling in clouds. And you could set your watch by the afternoon thunderstorms.
[Launches take place from Canaveral because it's one of the lowest latitude spots in the continental USA, and so earth spin gives you a slight boost on takeoff, saving fuel. So if you make a rocket it BETTER be Florida weather proof]
When I was in the Navy I was so used to electrical, electronic, and mechanical/pipe systems being weatherproof and salt-water tolerant that I'm kind of amazed that Starliner's engineers missed this obvious operational condition.
I remember my first visit to an old timer's radio "shack". He didn't need a room heater - the 813's filament was very bright.
However - nothing compared to a BBC TV transmitter room on a rare "open day". A long queue in the middle of nowhere - with most of the public apparently expecting to see "Meg". The technicians were delighted when people were actually interested in the equipment for itself.
Wasn't Boeing selected at least in part due to its long history of building launch vehicles? Many of which launched from Florida?
> the chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves, causing them to stick.
Yes, that happens when you don't bother too much about specifications and use the cheapest materials you can find...
One thing makes me wonder though: Florida's humid air is outside, and the spacecraft's oxidizer is (hopefully) inside the piping. So how do those two manage to interact? I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me those two should have pretty few occasions to meet, definitely not enough to block half of the engine's valves (which in itself is quite an achievement).
I wondered why Boeing might be interested in hypergolic propellants, then I realised some are zero carbon. So I guess this is just a learning curve en route to the "747-Green"!
Dammit, why can't I have the bomb icon and the hazmat icon and the joke icon all at once?
Leakage of the hypergolic propellants out of the valves is a known problem on all spacecraft using them. The solution is to put each valve in a box that is vented to the outside so the leakage can evaporate away in vacuum. On the ground before launch the vent is usually covered by a "remove before flight" tag or a tissue paper seal that ruptures. Why this was not done or didn't work in this case is an execise left for the investigators.
Nothing cheap materials wise with Boeing and so far not much to be cheery about.
Ever since Boeing and SpaceX were award contracts, Boeing has been receiving nearly double the money and wanted to up the cost per seat, something that in 2019 was assessed bu NASA to already be 60% higher than SpaceX.
When you consider what the Starliner has cost so far without delivering and comparing its performance with the new boy, one wonders why the contract is still going?
I suspect the army of Boeing lawyers waiting in the wings is the main reason.
As things are at the current rate of success, Bezos will be delivering before Boeing.
Yeah, you may be right about Bezos, but that's kinda the point. NASA is willing to bleed red ink to keep things from becoming a one horse race. Part of why they are paying Boeing, Blue, and the others to try to develop a non-monopolistic space industry. Boeing also spreads a lot of cheddar around Washington, which also pays for their military and airplane subsidies.
Boeing going to end up a distant third the way things are going, but NASA may still believe the price is worth it to have a choice other than a space pirate and the whims of a post-silicon valley Willy Wonka.
maybe purging them with ammonia gas would neutralize the acidity ?? Metals in a slightly basic pH tend to form protective oxide layers.
OK that would be too simple and obvious. Just vent some ammonia into the thruster exhaust ports to keep the pH under control and voila! Problem solved! So what if it smells like glass cleaner.
"chemicals from the spacecraft’s oxidizer reacted with water condensation inside the valves to form nitric acid. The acidity corroded the valves"
This should have been anticipated at the very first design stage. Commercial chemical works address such issues (and worse) all the time successfully.
One has to wonder whether this was an outcome of outsourced component design/production. The Dreamliner had component design outsource problems, as did a notable (non-Boeing) aircraft carrier (to the extent in the latter case that some pipework had to be hammered into alignment).
Central design control is essential where technologies are this complex, as local interpretation of requirements can diverge from central expectations. But of course it's more expensive than fire and forget outsourcing.
We have been missing them this fire season. Which is to say we have almost every one that was ever built in the sky right now, and we could use more of them. The same thing will probably happen next year as well but it seems the assembly lines for the Short brothers designs all got shut down.
Be totally happy to be wrong about that, as we are paying for a DC-10 and a bunch of war surplus helicopters ATM that aren't as effective as the ol Superscoopers, while also being much more expensive.
the wrong kind of humidity.
That's actually worse than trains being cancelled due to the 'wrong kind of snow'. Boeing are looking like an outfit that have lost their way, or maybe found a different way, but whatever it is it sure doesn't encourage confidence when it comes to trusting lives to their care.
Controlled humidity in a spacecraft final assembly and storage facility? Whoever could have anticipated the need for that? Surely not as highly experienced an aerospace supplier as Boeing.
They seem less and less like the world's biggest aerospace company and more and more like the world's biggest landslide of yesterday's beancounters. The answer is blindingly obvious - employ more lawyers.
Reminds me of ISO 9001
It doesn’t have to work as long as you have followed the documented procedures.
If you want to test a box of fragile electronics by kicking then off the roof of a building, make out an area which is cordoned off for the landing , design a standard test model (size 10 doc martins) and it will pass.
The fact it results in a pile of scrap and can’t function is irrelevant- you have followed the correct process.
HEY! where'd you get a copy of our top secret test procedures and ISO 9001 documentation?
Although to be fair its more like generating a paper trail
P.O. issued :tick
Drawing/technical info issued :tick
Cell #6 built up by setter #3 :tick
first part inspected :tick
In process check :....................
Yupp blame the min wage minion who never signed off his bit
My favorite was the tests run at my first job, for a different project. They were using the ancient Sperry AN/YUK-502 hardware (which doesn't even have a *stack*, but it has "radiation hard" iron core memory, so... But I digress.)
The hard drive for the beasts were encased in massive safes with shock absorber springs capable of taking a stream of .50 caliber shells and continuing to function (I presume they never tried shooting any of the connecting cables.)
These things would be dropped 50 feet to simulate waves on the oceans. The resulting BOOM would make the whole complex shake...
BTW, they were RUNNING while being dropped, and had to function without failure despite the impact! They may have been incredibly SMALL hard drives, capacity-wise, but they were TOUGH!
The monitors could also take .50 caliber shells, so they were fair game for as much frustrated slapping as you felt like unleashing on them. They didn't care. *LOL*
This is Challenger all over. Sure, nobody died. But with Challenger, the insulation rings got inflexible in the cold. In this case, more than half (!) of the valves had corroded. Although they are trying to spin it as 'nothing happened', this shows bad testing and bad risk analysis.
I guess there are plenty of brilliant engineers in Boeing. We know that the MAX failure was caused by management who wanted to maintain costs to the lower level and refused to listen to the technical ones. But here, what is the reason for such a huge and obvious failure? What is so wrong at Boeing?
> I guess there are plenty of brilliant engineers in Boeing
Are or were? I know that if I was a brilliant engineer working there, I would leave ASAP, first because I apparently can't really work there at my full potential, second because a longer stint at Boeing in my resume would be a career-destroying stain, stigmatizing me as "most likely incompetent".
At least they caught this thing before any bodies were on the line.
As long as they don't have to completely disassemble it to repair and can assure safety then they're just late to the space party. They pull that off and that undoes some damage to their rep. Easier said than done, though.
If Bezos and his dickship can actually break orbit, maybe... he might... I dunno what that plan is, or Toothbeard for that matter.
I was trying to chin up and cheer for breaking up the space-opoly, but it unraveled quickly what with only SpaceMusk doing anything useful up there.
Better optimism next time, I guess. Pretty much like Boeing, at this point.
Now, if they can build something that flies on optimism...