With the upcoming launch today, Eric Berger writes that the surprise is not that it took so long, but that it happened at all.

Has Boeing done anything right, or well recently?

[Update a few minutes later]

Reading in the article about the “incident” at White Sands, I recall that I was sitting next to Chris Ferguson at an Apollo 49th-anniversary dinner at KSC a month or so afterward, and I said something like “I heard you had a little oopsie at WSMR.” He said, “You’re not supposed to know about that.” I’m sure that he wished that I (and others) didn’t know about that.

25 thoughts on “Starliner”

  1. Boeing’s excuses tend to emphasize that developmental systems need to be cost plus. However, it really can’t be said that developing what is essentially an incrementally improved capsule system with new control systems and avionics is a truly bleeding edge development project. This isn’t a Mach 10 aircraft with a type of engine that’s never been built. All of the basic hardware can trace lineage back to the 60s and 70s. So, I’m not all that sympathetic. SpaceX did a lot better for less, without any institutional memory. Hey, maybe that was a good thing.

  2. I can’t help it, I just like Tory Bruno. The man’s heart is in the right place (stuff?). Anyway today’s ToryTalk .

    h/t to NASA Space Flight for the YouTube link.

    It’s always good to have options. Ad Astra guys, all my best.

      1. I don’t know about that, but he has said some pretty dumb things in the past. For instance:

        Bruno says reusable rockets might someday be economically viable, but it’s a difficult place to start and the costs quickly snowball.

        “If you could reuse your first-stage booster and it didn’t cost you anything to do that, you might be able to knock 25-30% off the price of going to space,” he said. “That’s worth doing; those are real dollars. Unfortunately, it’s not free.

        “When we looked at that math, we figure you’ve got to do about 10 reuses to break even, which is pointless because you’re doing this to save money, so you’ve got to do this about 15 times.”

        Give or take…

        I’m sure he (and I) would rather he focus on ULA. FUD is not his forté…

  3. Reading in the article about the “incident” at White Sands,

    This incident?

    The USAF was dropping B58’s out of the sky from Bunker Hill back in the day.

    Got to see one first hand. Probably not supposed to know about those either, but kinda hard to hide almost taking out a farm house.
    And no the farmer didn’t get to keep the 20mm T-171E “Rotary Cannon” as a souvenir.

  4. IIRC this is the capsule that a test pilot knocked back a chance to do a first flight on because he had “family business” to attend to at the original planned launch date.
    Smart man.

  5. Did Boeing ever really have any presence in space – other than Douglas and North American Rockwell?

    1. I should have said manned space – Boeing of course built BOMARC and the Minuteman system

    2. Quite a bit, actually, not even counting their acquisition of Hughes satellite from GM. Gordon Woodcock and Dana Andrews were based in Seattle, and I often competed against them (and teamed with them, depending) in the 80s. Boeing was one of the contractors for the DOE/NASA SPS studies in the seventies (Woodcock was the program manager). The other team was Rockwell, led by Gerry Hanley, who I replaced after he retired in the early 90s.

      1. But Rockwell (Eventually acquired by Boeing) actually built the SPS…

        And did Boeing get Hughes space before MDC bought Hughes Helicopter/etc?

  6. Is there any sort of pathology associated with Starliner that doesn’t reverberate through all of Boeing’s other fiascos? When they announced they weren’t going to start to develop any new aircraft until sometime next decade, maybe it was because they realized that they had lost the ability and needed time to cash out their stock options before anyone else caught on.

    The first thing that happens after a merger is all the senior (expensive) people at the mergee get their walking papers. So much for “experience” or “domain knowledge” or knowing where the rest rooms are.

  7. “NASA, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance scrubbed the launch opportunity on Monday, May 6, for the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station due to a faulty oxygen relief valve observation on the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket Centaur second stage.”

    1. According to NSF :
      After discovering an issue with an oxygen relief valve on the Centaur upper stage of the launch vehicle, the flight has been delayed until no earlier than [Friday] May 17 to allow replacement of the misbehaving part.

    2. It seems the frat boys over at NSF may have got it wrong again. NASA is saying NET *this* Friday May 10th.

      NASA, Boeing, and ULA (United Launch Alliance) are targeting no earlier than Friday, May 10, for launch of the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test to the International Space Station, pending resolution of the technical issue that prevented the May 6 launch attempt.

      The delay allows teams to complete data analysis on a pressure regulation valve on the liquid oxygen tank of the Atlas V rocket ‘s Centaur upper stage and determine whether it is necessary to replace the valve…

      I suppose the actual date may have to do with whether they can massage the valve in place or actually have to go in and replace it. Haven’t heard which.

      1. We may be witnessing the longest isolation endurance test for astronauts yet. I don’t know what the record for Apollo was…

    3. Launch date moved back to NET May 21st to NET May 25th to now NET TBD. I believe the astronauts are officially out of quarantine.

      Helium leak.

    4. In my grand tradition of posting to dead threads, we have a new NET on Starliner. According to the frat boys at NSF, NET of Saturday June 1st at 12:25pm ET from SLC-41 in an ‘instantaneous window’. Which I always interpret as ‘expect a scrub’.

  8. I’ve been annoyed by the deference Boeing received on this contract from the start. Between getting 2/3 of the money and the constant reminders that “we built Apollo” (no, a company you bought built Apollo 50 years ago…anyone left at that company is the kind of person who sits in the back at design reviews and eats all the donuts) it was obvious who the favorite was. A friend hosted a launch party (in his garage with the door open…there was a pandemic on![I wish this was sarcasm]) when SpaceX flew to the ISS and I was loving it.

  9. One of the comments wishes Eric a “Long and happy life” after critiquing Boeing. Ouch.

    1. Yeah I saw that… Along the lines of “Is your life insurance current on the premiums?”

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