Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

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Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2019-12-20 06:03pm

Boeing’s new Starliner capsule has run into trouble in orbit minutes after blasting off on its first test flight.

Everything went flawlessly as an Atlas V rocket soared with the Starliner just before sunrise, in a crucial dress rehearsal for next year’s inaugural launch with astronauts.

But half an hour into the flight, Boeing reported that the capsule’s insertion into orbit was not normal.

Officials said flight controllers were looking at their options and stressed that the capsule was in a stable orbit, at least for now.

The Starliner was supposed to reach the International Space Station on Saturday, but that now appears to be in jeopardy.

The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the capsule blasted off just before sunrise from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was due to be a one-day trip to the space station, putting the spacecraft on track for a docking on Saturday morning.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-12-20 09:12pm

More Details have been released: The Computer mistimed a Burn, and used up too much fuel.
Boeing Astronaut Ship Stalls In Orbit
The Boeing company is going to have to cut short the uncrewed demonstration flight of its new astronaut capsule.

The Starliner launched successfully on its Atlas rocket from Florida, but then suffered technical problems that prevented it from taking the right path to the International Space Station.

It appears the capsule burnt too much fuel as it fired its engines, leaving an insufficient supply to complete its planned mission.

Starliner will now come back to Earth.

A landing is expected at New Mexico's White Sands testing range on Sunday.

The craft will use parachutes and airbags to make a soft touchdown on desert terrain.

The Administrator of Nasa, Jim Bridenstine, said in a press conference that Starliner had experienced a timing "anomaly". This led the automated capsule to become confused over where it was in its mission sequence, prompting it to initiate an incorrect burn on its thrusters.

Flight controllers recognised the problem but were unable to intervene quickly enough because the capsule was passing between satellite links.

"A lot of things went right," he said. "This is why we test."

The Administrator then suggested that had astronauts been in the capsule, they could have helped re-direct the craft to the space station.

Nasa astronaut Mike Fincke, who has already been selected to fly on a future Starliner, agreed with this assessment.

"Had we been on board, we could have given the flight control team more options on what to do in this situation," he said.

Not since 2011, when the shuttles were retired, have Americans launched from their own soil; US astronauts have been hitching rides in Russian Soyuz capsules instead.

The Starliner, and another capsule called Dragon from the SpaceX company, have been developed to reinstate the capability.

The business model will be different from the past, however.

Instead of owning and operating the new capsules, Nasa will simply buy seats in the craft. And Boeing and SpaceX will also be free to sell any spare capacity to others - to other space agencies and commercial concerns.

The agency "seeded" Starliner and Dragon under its Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The companies were given milestone payments to encourage the development of their capsules.

The vehicles are late, however; they should have been flying in 2017.

That they are still at the demonstration stage is due in part to Congress squeezing the amount of money Nasa could spend on the initiative. But also because of technical set-backs, such as the explosive destruction of a Dragon capsule on a test stand.

The SpaceX craft does look closer to entering service, though, after completing its own uncrewed trial in March. Whether Boeing will now have to repeat its test flight, going all the way to the station, before it can join Dragon on the "taxi rank" is uncertain. "I think it's too early to make that assessment," Mr Bridenstein said.

It's still possible Boeing and Nasa may decide to move directly to crewed flights.

Mike Fincke's Nasa astronaut colleague on the upcoming Starliner mission will be Nicole Mann. "We are looking forward to flying on Starliner. We don't have any safety concerns," she commented.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by Broomstick » 2019-12-21 05:37am

Space is hard. This is rocket science, after all. Still, not a total failure.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-12-21 02:31pm

Broomstick wrote:
2019-12-21 05:37am
Space is hard. This is rocket science, after all. Still, not a total failure.
Nope, not a total failure. It made space, they learned the computer needs a better GPS, and maybe more fuel in case of oops. Now, assuming the landing is good, they'll just have to tweak a few things.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by SpottedKitty » 2019-12-21 08:33pm

LadyTevar wrote:
2019-12-21 02:31pm
Nope, not a total failure. It made space, they learned the computer needs a better GPS, and maybe more fuel in case of oops. Now, assuming the landing is good, they'll just have to tweak a few things.
"More fuel" is one of the trickiest problems in space launches; the margins are hair-thin, and you can easily find yourself in a "can't get there from here" situation. Fuel in the capsule needs fuel burned by the first stage to launch it, and even more fuel in the first stage to launch the more fuel you just put into the first stage. Repeat for a few more cycles...

The Apollo Lunar Module is one of the best known examples; its development took longer than planned because they had to shave weight to a ridiculous degree. Pounds saved from the LM weight meant tons of fuel that didn't have to be loaded into the Saturn V first stage.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Heavy also count; sometimes the flight they're launched for needs so much fuel there isn't enough for the initial boostback burn and the first stage has to land on the barge instead of RTLS. There have been a few flights where even that wasn't possible and the stage had to be splashed with no soft landing option.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by loomer » 2019-12-21 09:21pm

Yep. Until we have an orbital fuel depot just adding fuel to the launch without significant redesign of the launch vehicle is a logistical nightmare.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by TimothyC » 2019-12-21 11:11pm

Wow, I forgot to submit my reply earlier.

Short answer: STARLINER did make orbit thanks to MIGHTY ATLAS and MIGHTY CENTAUR. Atlas V retains the record as the only rocket to have all of the payloads delivered to an orbit that the customer found acceptable* (Delta IV Heavy's first launch had just enough of an underperformance to mean it doesn't get this title). What has likely happened is that the extra fuel ate into the margins that NASA requires for any proximity ops in the ISS Control and KEEP OUT zones. The ECLSS on STARLINER was only rated for 60 hours with a seven crew load anyway, so they have a finite life up there if not docked to the station.
LadyTevar wrote:
2019-12-21 02:31pm
Nope, not a total failure. It made space, they learned the computer needs a better GPS, and maybe more fuel in case of oops. Now, assuming the landing is good, they'll just have to tweak a few things.
Better timer on the flight control system. Also, had there been crew? They would have been able to hit the switch and this wouldn't have been a problem. The tanks in the service module? Those drove the size of the service module and there is no more room. Any chances would require recertification of the entire stack.
SpottedKitty wrote:
2019-12-21 08:33pm
"More fuel" is one of the trickiest problems in space launches; the margins are hair-thin, and you can easily find yourself in a "can't get there from here" situation. Fuel in the capsule needs fuel burned by the first stage to launch it, and even more fuel in the first stage to launch the more fuel you just put into the first stage. Repeat for a few more cycles...
This vehicle is launching on an Atlas N22 (No fairing, 2 solid boosters, 2 engines on the MIGHTY CENTAUR). While more than two solids would require a recertificaiton of the stack, you'd need to do that anyway if the STARLINER Service Module was stretched. It's literally launching on a rocket that is designed to take as many as five solid motors, and the current AJ60s are planned to be replaced with GEM63s to offer commonality with the VULCAN rockets that are manifested for early 2021, and will fly from the same pad.

loomer wrote:
2019-12-21 09:21pm
Yep. Until we have an orbital fuel depot just adding fuel to the launch without significant redesign of the launch vehicle is a logistical nightmare.
EELV, of which MIGHTY ATLAS V was one (Delta IV was the other) was designed to offer a variety of payload capacities, hence the options of putting up to five solids on the core, or the option of a three core MIGHTY ATLAS V Heavy (never proceeded with). This is also why VULCAN will offer zero, two, four, and six booster configurations.

*Out of 81 launches, there have been two that had an underperformance, one of which was classified as 'acceptable' by the NRO, and the other which impacted MIGHTY CENTAUR disposal at the end of the mission. Only three other rockets have had this record of successful missions in a row: Ariane V, Delta II, and a brief run of the R-7 derived boosters in the 1970s. Ariane V managed to have several early failures, and Delta II manged 100 successes before being retired in 2018.

Oh, and if you are reading this, I used MIGHTY ATLAS V and MIGHTY CENTAUR 'cause it's what ULA social media uses, and it's all kinds of fun
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by MKSheppard » 2019-12-25 07:16am

Boeing missed contract parameter. They must demonstrate unmanned docking to ISS. Reflight necessary under contract. Too bad they're paying $200M for MIGHTY ATLAS V, instead of $60M for DIRTY FALCON.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by Sky Captain » 2019-12-27 03:07pm

MKSheppard wrote:
2019-12-25 07:16am
Boeing missed contract parameter. They must demonstrate unmanned docking to ISS. Reflight necessary under contract. Too bad they're paying $200M for MIGHTY ATLAS V, instead of $60M for DIRTY FALCON.
Could Starliner launch on Falcon 9 at all without some redesign of major components like crew access arm on Falcon 9 pad not fitting because Dragon is different size than Starliner? It would be neat if Dragon and Starliner could switch between Atlas V and Falcon 9 just in case one rocket gets grounded because of some problem, but I guess there would be some costly redesigns and re-certifications needed to pull that off.

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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by TimothyC » 2019-12-27 06:48pm

MKSheppard wrote:
2019-12-25 07:16am
Boeing missed contract parameter. They must demonstrate unmanned docking to ISS. Reflight necessary under contract. Too bad they're paying $200M for MIGHTY ATLAS V, instead of $60M for DIRTY FALCON.
Got a source for that? Also, Atlas V has never failed a customer delivery. You do pay for a legacy system with a perfect record. That said, lying doesn't suit you Shep. While the Atlas V configuration and requirements for the Starliner launch may have infact been $200M (which I really doubt as the baseline no-solid Atlas V is in the $100-110M range), the cost for a NASA Falcon 9 launch? It's a lot more than $60M - it is easily twice that, and you know it.
Sky Captain wrote:
2019-12-27 03:07pm
Could Starliner launch on Falcon 9 at all without some redesign of major components like crew access arm on Falcon 9 pad not fitting because Dragon is different size than Starliner? It would be neat if Dragon and Starliner could switch between Atlas V and Falcon 9 just in case one rocket gets grounded because of some problem, but I guess there would be some costly redesigns and re-certifications needed to pull that off.
While Starliner was designed to be LV agnostic (originally so it could go on either Atlas V or Delta IV - but now it means that Boeing will be able to transition to Vulcan once there is a flight history), the current configuration that is being certified is for Atlas V only. The changes to the ground support equipment (GSE) to put Starliner on anything other than Atlas V, and eventually Vulcan would be substantive. As for redundancy, this is why there are two providers on two rockets that don't share any major components.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by Beowulf » 2019-12-28 07:37am

TimothyC wrote:
2019-12-27 06:48pm
MKSheppard wrote:
2019-12-25 07:16am
Boeing missed contract parameter. They must demonstrate unmanned docking to ISS. Reflight necessary under contract. Too bad they're paying $200M for MIGHTY ATLAS V, instead of $60M for DIRTY FALCON.
Got a source for that? Also, Atlas V has never failed a customer delivery. You do pay for a legacy system with a perfect record. That said, lying doesn't suit you Shep. While the Atlas V configuration and requirements for the Starliner launch may have infact been $200M (which I really doubt as the baseline no-solid Atlas V is in the $100-110M range), the cost for a NASA Falcon 9 launch? It's a lot more than $60M - it is easily twice that, and you know it.
We don't have a launch cost. But we do have a estimated per seat cost: $90m ea for Boeing, and $55m ea for SpX, each with a nominal 4 seat filled launch. This amounts to $140 million less for SpX than Boeing, which actually matches the cost differential mentioned by Shep. Probably not the actual source of the difference, as I expect Boeing's probably charging for the capsule too.
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Re: Boeing’s Starliner capsule mission falls short of orbit.

Post by MKSheppard » 2019-12-31 06:09pm

TimothyC wrote:
2019-12-27 06:48pm
Got a source for that?
SpaceX's contract:
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/file ... ntract.pdf

Boeing's contract:
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/file ... ng_508.pdf

The Contractor’s flight test program shall include an uncrewed orbital flight test to the ISS.
The OFT shall include a CCTS that validates end-to-end connectivity, LV and CST-100
integration, launch and flight operations, automated rendezvous and proximity operations, and
docking with the ISS, assuming ISS approval.


Note that wording "The OFT Shall....." before that verbiage.
Also, Atlas V has never failed a customer delivery. You do pay for a legacy system with a perfect record
They went into an 11 hour hold down before launch, and since MIGHTY ATLAS was now linked to Starliner (first time MIGHTY ATLAS was linked to payload ever), the MET clock in Starliner kept ticking forward.
That said, lying doesn't suit you Shep. While the Atlas V configuration and requirements for the Starliner launch may have infact been $200M (which I really doubt as the baseline no-solid Atlas V is in the $100-110M range), the cost for a NASA Falcon 9 launch? It's a lot more than $60M - it is easily twice that, and you know it.
It doesn't really matter in any case; since a serious NASA response will wipe out any profits from that $248M contract renegotiation BOEING did with NASA.

We'll know if NASA is serious about contractual requirements and ASTRONAUT SAFETY (RAR) by their reaction to this failed demo mission.
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