Specialists from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have recommended changing the software check procedure at Boeing due to problems identified when launching its Starliner in December 2019. This was announced on Thursday by the Internet portal Space News.
Starliner was launched on December 20 in an unmanned mode to the International Space Station (ISS) from the air base at Cape Canaveral, Florida using the Atlas V booster. Due to technical problems, the planned docking of the ship with the orbital complex was canceled. One of the reasons was recognized as a malfunction in the system of counting flight time. As a result, the ship was returned to Earth.
As noted in the publication Space News, members of the NASA safety committee held a meeting to discuss another identified issue with Starliner software. About it, as the portal notes, has not been previously reported. One of the members of the specified commission, Paul Hill clarified that “this problem was fixed during the flight.” As he emphasized, “if this had not been done, then the engine would have been mistakenly switched on, there would have been uncontrolled movement during the separation of the” service compartment. According to Hill, this “could lead to a catastrophic malfunction of the spacecraft.”
As Hill emphasized, the incident aroused concern in the commission as to whether Boeing’s software was carefully checked. The Commission recommends that the relevant procedures be reviewed and improved.
The new US ship Starliner, developed by Boeing, has a mass of 13 tons. It is designed for a crew of seven and is capable of autonomous flight for 60 hours.