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NASA Commercial Crew (CCtCap) test milestones

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DocM    14,812

Yup. Probably barely crushed the PICA-X tiles.

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DocM    14,812

August 3 VP Mike Pence will be at KSC.

 

He will announce the upcoming NET launch dates for Crew Dragon and Starliner, and the astronauts for their  crewed test flights..

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)

Now it can come out of embargo; Starliner suffered a setback.

 

Yes, this is sanitized.  Deleted posts on Reddit reported a valve stuck open, allowing hydrazine fuel to leak onto the test stand and Starliner test article. Some replies give alleged details.

 

 

Ars Technica....

 

Quote


Boeing suffers a setback with Starliner's pad abort test

In late June, an anomaly occurred during preparations for Boeing's test of the Starliner spacecraft and its launch abort system. On Saturday, after Ars published a short report on the issue at a test site in White Sands, New Mexico, based on input from sources, Boeing provided additional information about the problem. This story has been updated to reflect the Boeing statement.

The company said it conducted a hot-fire test of the launch-abort engines on an integrated service module at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in June. The engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration, but during engine shutdown an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak. "We have been conducting a thorough investigation with assistance from our NASA and industry partners," the statement said. "We are confident we found the cause and are moving forward with corrective action. Flight safety and risk mitigation are why we conduct such rigorous testing, and anomalies are a natural part of any test program."

>

Boeing officials have apparently told NASA they believe there is an operational fix to the problem rather than a need to significantly rework the Starliner spacecraft itself. Boeing is already deep into production of two more Starliner vehiclesone that will undertake an uncrewed "Orbital Flight Test" for NASA's commercial crew program, perhaps late this year, as well as the spacecraft that will fly the "Crew Flight Test" sometime in 2019. One source indicated that this problem may not affect the uncrewed test flight but that it could delay the crew test.

>

 

 

I'd be shocked if they manage do the crewed flight in 2019.

Edited by DocM

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Beittil    495

With this incident there is just no way they can still justify holding back SpaceX so that Boeing might launch first!

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DocM    14,812

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

No way that's the last word on this ... by a LONG shot.

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)

Yup, especially with VP Pence, who chairs the National Space Council,  supposedly naming the astronauts for the Crew Dragon and Starliner test flights on August 3. Any NET dates given will be....interesting.

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)

https://spacenews.com/boeings-starliner-launch-abort-engine-suffers-problem-during-testing/

 

Quote

Boeing’s Starliner launch abort engine suffers problem during testing

>
The incident happened during a hot-fire test of the engines used by Starliner’s abort system, integrated into a spacecraft service module. The static test, which took place in June at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, was a prelude to a pad abort test of the system planned for later this summer.

“The engines successfully ignited and ran for the full duration,” the company said in a statement. “During engine shutdown an anomaly occurred that resulted in a propellant leak.”
>
Boeing didn't elaborate on the nature of the problem, but other sources, including social media postings several days before the official statement, claimed that a hydrazine valve in the propulsion system failed to close properly at the end of the test, causing the propellant to leak. Boeing didn't issue the statement until after the first published report about the anomaly by Ars Technica.

Aerojet, in an October 2016 release about an earlier set of hot-fire tests of the thruster, touted the use of "innovative" valves in the launch abort engines. Those valves, said company president and chief executive Eileen Drake, "demonstrate precise timing, peak thrust control and steady-state thrust necessary during a mission abort."
>

 

 

From AJR's PR (LAE = launch abort engine)

 

Quote

>

The LAEs, designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne, include a fuel valve and oxidizer valve, which were developed and tested under the company's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) subcontract to Boeing. The Starliner will open a new era of spaceflight, carrying humans to the International Space Station once again from United States soil.

"These innovative valves successfully enabled the engine to demonstrate precise timing, peak thrust control and steady-state thrust necessary during a mission abort. This testing culminates a year of dedicated hard work by the LAE Integrated Product Team at Aerojet Rocketdyne," said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. "This is another important step forward as our nation prepares to safely and reliably send humans back to the space station from American soil."

>

 

Apparently, Aerojet Rocketdyne's valves aren't as "innovative" as they believed.

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

This incident is a way, way bigger mess than is being let on. The Starliner test article suffered damage to the degree that they won't be able to use it again without a complete teardown -- all the way to the pressure hull -- decon it, then refab with all-new components. They can't even use anything but the pressure hull again as-is. The rest of it is complete scrap. Anything organic is goop; anything metal has to be deconned before reuse too.

 

Glad we're not working there. What a hose-job that'll be.

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Unobscured Vision said:

This incident is a way, way bigger mess than is being let on.

>

Glad we're not working there. What a hose-job that'll be.

 

A total Charlie Foxtrot and sets back the entire test program,

 

There is also no planned Starliner in-flight MaxQ test, which IMO needs revisiting. The last thing they need is one of these clearly complex & twitchy  valves not being able to handle the loads. This could cause a thrust imbalance which turns  the vehicle into a New Year's pinwheel, and the astronauts into goop.

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,483
6 hours ago, DocM said:

 

A total Charlie Foxtrot and sets back the entire test program,

 

There is also no planned Starliner in-flight MaxQ test, which IMO needs revisiting. The last thing they need is one of these clearly complex & twitchy  valves not being able to handle the loads. This could cause a thrust imbalance which turns  the vehicle into a New Year's pinwheel, and the astronauts into goop.

 

Agree completely.

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)

Boeing, no doubt trying to change the conversation after the Starliner test failure, has named former NASA astronaut Christopher Ferguson as the  company test pilot for Starliner's Crewed Flight Test. 

 

Ferguson is Boeing's director of Crew and Mission Operations for Commercial Crew, and was Commander and the last man off STS-135 - the final Shuttle mission.

 

WaPo story....

 

Ferguson in Boeing's Commercial Crew spacesuit. 

space_suit_630.0.jpg

 

Edited by DocM

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DocM    14,812

Spacesuits

 

post-10859-0-59377100-1532540651.jpg

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Beittil    495

Seems like a bit of a stretch to put your programs head honcho in the driver's seat... But hey, he is super experienced and I suppose the NASA astros won't mind the company, though it may feel somewhat like having somebody nosing over their shoulders a bit. 

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)

I updated the flight suit comparison

 

1187984286_spaceflightsuits.thumb.jpg.9925858f10a4adc4873a43e43ee8feba.jpg

 

And,

 

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-name-astronauts-assigned-to-first-boeing-spacex-flights

 

Quote

NASA to Name Astronauts Assigned to First Boeing, SpaceX Flights

 

NASA will announce on Friday, Aug. 3, the astronauts assigned to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon, and begin a new era in American spaceflight. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will preside over the event, which will begin at 11 a.m. EDT on NASA Television and the agency's website.

NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification mission for both Boeing and SpaceX. NASA partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.

U.S. media are invited to attend the event at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and, afterward, speak with the astronauts about their assignments. Media wishing to attend must contact Johnson's newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 4 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana will join Bridenstine and representatives from Boeing and SpaceX to introduce the crews.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems designed to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit. The Starliner and Crew Dragon will launch American astronauts on American-made spacecraft from American soil to the International Space Station for the first time since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Commercial transportation to and from the space station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory. The station is critical for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, and necessary for a sustainable presence on the Moon and missions deeper into the solar system, including Mars.

Following the announcement, the astronauts will participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything at 12:30 p.m. at:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/

Images and video highlights from the announcement will be available at:

https://images.nasa.gov

-end-

 

Edited by DocM

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DocM    14,812

Oops....

 

 

 

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

Yep. Exactly as I said. Charlie Foxtrot in-progress.

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DocM    14,812

Yup. Not "a test stand issue" as some have tried to spin it.

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

This is very clearly a design issue and Boeing is stalling for time to figure out exactly who to blame it on. That's all this is going to end up being. "Who do we throw under the bus?"

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DocM    14,812
Posted (edited)
So much for it being a test stand issue.... ?
 
She's from Aviation Week
 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

Doubling down on the "just ignore it and it'll go away" mentality. Then again the problem was just valves ... right, Boeing?

 

Test stand issue my good eye ... let's spin another completely impossible hunk of [snip] story that won't exist in the realm of the real.

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IsItPluggedIn    1,683
Posted (edited)

Well somebody at NASA will mysteriously end up with a bunch of money in their pocket and this issue will be exactly how Boeing says it is. They will launch anyway because it "worked that 1 time".

 

I dont usually like to gloat in others misery but, it makes me feel good with all that has happened during this process. The fact that they agreed to pay Boeing more and dropped others because Boeing had "experience". Yet they are still behind their design looks to less safe and they are still having issues. I hope that people in power will look at this process and realize their mistakes. 

Edited by IsItPluggedIn

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DocM    14,812

Yeah. Both Boeing and Northrop-Grumman have not had a good run.

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DocM    14,812

I'll believe mid-2019 when it happens. No sooner.

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,483

That scheduling "thing" again. It makes my head itch.

 

So Boeing is moving forward, using their second unit in place of the first. Okay. They can use it to test whatever they need to test on the ground while Unit #1 is being rebuilt (if they can use anything on it again). Fine, whatever. Install the reworked RCS valves, check. Test 'em and that works out fine. Check.

 

The issue have is that they are going according to the timeline that says "we need to beat SpaceX in this race", and that will mean Starliner is going to be unsafe

 

Imagine what would have happened in a scenario where this valve issue didn't occur on the test stand but LATER, during a manned launch? There would be numerous "quadruple failures" like with Apollo 13 in many systems at once, and then the environmental seals would start to fail. Oh, and then they do an abort and try to reenter -- upon which MORE enviroseal failures occur -- and that capsule pops like a balloon because the pressure hull failed.

 

Am I glad the problem was found now? Yes, I am. Could there be more problems with Starliner? YES. Why? Because Boeing is rushing Starliner in order to beat SpaceX.

 

SpaceX has already won that race. Crew Dragon is feature-complete in this iteration. The boffins are building the first one NOW. Full load-out. It'll be ready in a month, then they're doing the final checkouts. We're THREE MONTHS from it's first test flight.

 

Boeing can afford to slow down and do it right. It only became a race when they started playing dirty, messing around, and otherwise holding up the show in the first place because Boeing made it so, arbitrarily. Call it paranoia, pride, whatever.

 

They've shot themselves in the foot, and I really hope Boeing doesn't end up killing Astronauts from those spent rounds too.

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