NASA and Boeing have completed a review of the anomaly plagued maiden Starliner mission that was flown in December 2019. The review identified an extensive list of “recommendations” with not only the spacecraft itself but the Boeing team that designed and tested it.
During a July 7 teleconference, NASA’s Human Exploration (Kathy Lueders) and Commercial Crew (Steve Stich) chiefs revealed the results of the agency’s review of Boeing’s December 2019 uncrewed Starliner Orbital Flight Test. The pair outlined a staggering list of over 80 points of concern, euphemistically described as “recommendations”, with Boeing and its Starliner spacecraft.
Due to some of the information being what NASA described as “sensitive and proprietary”, the agency did not share a detailed view of each recommendation. Instead, it outlined five main areas of concern and how many individual recommendations were identified in each area.
The “process and operational improvements” area of concern had the most individual recommendations. The 35 recommendations reportedly cover a variety of issues from “increasing the involvement of subject matter experts in safety critical areas”, to expanded performance reviews.
The other four areas of concern were “testing and simulation”, which included 21 individual recommendations, “[software] requirements”, “software”, and “knowledge capture and hardware modification”. So to review, the company and team that designed the spacecraft, the software that controls the spacecraft, and the spacecraft’s hardware all require correcting.
According to a July 7 NASA press release, the “independent review team” that compiled the report will not be disbanded and will instead be retained. The press release stated that the team would be a “valuable and important partner” as Boeing prepares for the next uncrewed Starliner test flight. This would suggest that NASA intends to keep a much closer eye on its long-time partner moving forward.
Although the final results of the review have only just been released, NASA and Boeing shared preliminary findings of the investigation in February. As a result, many of the recommendations are already being implemented.