January 20, 2021

Code errors prevented the success of the test with the Boeing spacecraft

Two software errors in the code, which were not discovered before launch, prevented Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner from joining the International Space Station (EEI) last December and failing its test flight, according to revealed a preliminary report.

These were two of the three anomalies that were detected during the launch that modified the trajectory of the Atlas V ferry and diverted it from its orbit due to an error in the on-board clock, a linking problem that prevented the flight crew will handle the ship and another in the sequence of the service module.

Once the problems were detected, both organizations decided not to complete the coupling of the ship to avoid possible complications, since “it was not known what could have happened” but by modifying the software “it was known that the ship would not collide.”

At the moment, both NASA and Boeing do not have all the information in this regard since the investigation will not be completed until the end of February, both organizations reported Friday in a teleconference with the media.

“We will clearly know more at the end of February, but we believe that the flight had many anomalies related to the software code, but what is certain is that we have the obligation to get to operate commercial flights in a low orbit, said the administrator of NASA, Jim Bridenstine.

These anomalies in the approximately more than one million lines of the complex aerospace code, which should have been discovered during the pre-launch verification process, were not the only ones, as there were also certain interference with the shuttle’s communication antenna.

The experts present at the conference, who indicated that “there is much to learn about it” speculated that the possible noise that was detected could be due to interference with mobile phone antennas, but at the moment they do not want to advance “hasty conclusions”.

“What we have to do is identify all the mistakes we have and make a plan. We must go back to check and verify the errors and then we will take a solution based on the results,” said Douglas Loverro, of the Directory of Operational Missions and Exploration NASA human.

The independent research team that made the report has already communicated some of the recommendations that both organizations should implement to avoid errors of these characteristics, although experts reiterated that “it is still too early to share the actions that will be carried out in the Starliner system” .

In addition, Bridenstine stressed that this is not the only project within the Manned Flights Commercial Program of the US space agency, as there is another mission underway with the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, to make commercial trips with humans “be a reality”.


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