Categories: world

Exclusive: SpaceX, Boeing design risks threaten new delays for US space programs

SEATTLE (Reuters) – NASA has warned SpaceX and Boeing Co for design and security issues for its competing astronaut launches, according to industry sources and a new government campaign, threatening the US bid to revive its human spacecraft later this year. One of Boeing Cos's CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsules is seen at a production facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, January 15, 2019. REUTERS / Eric M. Johnson NASA pays SpaceX $ 2.6 billion and Boeing $ 4 , 2 billion to build rocket and canister start systems to return astronauts to the international space station from the US soil for the first time since the US space flight program darkened in 2011. Just before the first scheduled unmanned test flight slated for March 2 During NASA's multibillion-dollar Commercial Crew Program, NASA's Security Advisory Panel referred four "key risk items" to its 2018 annual report earlier this month. For Boeing, they include the capsule's structural vulnerability when using the heat shield. For SpaceX, the report mentioned the editing of a SpaceX rocket capsule after a 2016 explosion and its "load and go" process to burn the rocket with the crew already inside the canister. "Parachute performance" was a problem for both companies. "There are serious challenges for the current launch schedules for both SpaceX and Boeing," the report says. For an interactive version of this story, click tmsnrt.rs/2V6pXyN Two people with direct knowledge of the program told Reuters that the spacecraft's concerns go beyond the four objects listed and contain…

SEATTLE (Reuters) – NASA has warned SpaceX and Boeing Co for design and security issues for its competing astronaut launches, according to industry sources and a new government campaign, threatening the US bid to revive its human spacecraft later this year.

One of Boeing Cos’s CST-100 Starliner astronaut capsules is seen at a production facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA, January 15, 2019. REUTERS / Eric M. Johnson

NASA pays SpaceX $ 2.6 billion and Boeing $ 4 , 2 billion to build rocket and canister start systems to return astronauts to the international space station from the US soil for the first time since the US space flight program darkened in 2011.

Just before the first scheduled unmanned test flight slated for March 2 During NASA’s multibillion-dollar Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Security Advisory Panel referred four “key risk items” to its 2018 annual report earlier this month.

For Boeing, they include the capsule’s structural vulnerability when using the heat shield. For SpaceX, the report mentioned the editing of a SpaceX rocket capsule after a 2016 explosion and its “load and go” process to burn the rocket with the crew already inside the canister. “Parachute performance” was a problem for both companies.

“There are serious challenges for the current launch schedules for both SpaceX and Boeing,” the report says.

For an interactive version of this story, click tmsnrt.rs/2V6pXyN

Two people with direct knowledge of the program told Reuters that the spacecraft’s concerns go beyond the four objects listed and contain a risk letter that from the beginning of February contained 30 to 35 long-lasting technical problems for SpaceX and Boeing. Reuters could not verify what all of the almost three dozen items are. But the sources familiar with the issue said that companies must address the “most” of these concerns before flying the astronauts and eventually tourists to space.

NASA’s risk database is routinely updated during NASA’s rigorous certification process, which includes data collection, testing, and collaboration with SpaceX and Boeing, the people said. The Boeing and SpaceX systems have already been delayed several times over the past few years, which is common in this sector considering the complexity of building multibillion-dollar spacecraft that can throw Earth’s gravity.

NASA’s spokesman Joshua Finch postponed all technical issues of Boeing and SpaceX systems to companies, referring to confidentiality, but said: “Flying safely always has priority over schedule.”

Boeing spokesman Josh Barrett said the company “closed” the capsule’s structural vulnerability when it completed its structural testing program in January. While Boeing works through a number of other problems, they do not run any major architectural system changes. “

” Our figures show that we exceed NASA’s security requirements, “says Barrett.

James Gleeson, SpaceX spokesman, said the company, working with NASA, has” developed one of the safest and most advanced human spaceflight systems ever. built. “

” It’s no more important for SpaceX than to safely fly crew, “said Gleeson, calling it” the core of our company’s long-term goal of enabling people to dream of flying to space. “

Founded by Tesla Inc, CEO Elon Musk, has reduced SpaceX’s cost of rocket launches with its groundbreaking reusable rocket technology, while Boeing traces space operations back to the first US space mission of the 1960s and is also the world’s largest plan maker.

Watch bitches. million dollars per ticket for a trip to the International Space Station, a 100 billion or so research lab. about 250 miles (402 km) above the ground.

There are no places available for US crew on Russia’s spacecraft after 2019 with specified production schedules and other factors. NASA said last week is considering paying for two more sites for the fall and spring 2020 space station to ensure access to the United States.

The NASA Plan for Extra Places came a week after the security panel said Congress would arrive at a “mitigation plan” for delays threatening US access to the space station – which is having previous concerns from the US Government Accountability Office.

NASA will conduct a flight mode round on Friday for SpaceX’s mission without a crew on March 2. NASA will decide whether the approval of the test flight should take place without a crew, while SpaceX addresses the problems that have arisen for a human mission.

PARACHUTS Disadvantages

Three people familiar with the project say that the US Space Agency has identified some deviations in the design of previous SpaceX capsules intended to load the International Space Station and a newer version designed to carry people.

Some of the risks – like those identified in the designs of the huge parachutes deploying when the canister squeezes back to Earth at supersonic speeds – are unusually given how close SpaceX is to testing flights, two of the people said.

The time of deployment of the SpaceX parachute and the interaction between parachutes themselves have raised concerns about parachute performance and potentially if they will be able to slow down the canister sufficiently to ensure crew safety, two people said.

SpaceX has completed 17 parachute tests for the Commercial Crew Program so far, with another 10 tests scheduled before Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission, Gleeson said. He also said that its parachute systems are designed with redundancy so that the vehicle can still clean safely if a parachute fails.

NASA’s Security Panel said in its report that SpaceX may be required to transform its parachute system. A transformation would probably lead to more testing and possibly weeks or months of extra delays, two of the people said.

NASA also found design problems with the system that help orientate the SpaceX capsule in upright position when landing at sea, increasing the risk of taking over large amounts of water according to two industry sources and confirmed by a NASA official.

SpaceX’s Gleeson said the Crew Dragon’s outer shell is water resistant and the spacecraft is fluid and poses no risk to crew members after splashdown.

RISK OF MORE INSURANCE

Earlier this month, NASA announced that SpaceX was now targeting March 2 instead of February 23 for its un-crewed Crew Dragon test flight, with its astronaut flight scheduled for July. NASA explained the delay by quoting vague concerns for both contractors, such as the need to complete hardware testing and other work.

NASA said Boeing’s un-crewed Starliner would fly “not earlier” than April, with the manned mission currently slated for August. This is the schedule that is now in danger, according to the NASA report.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The challenges ahead of Boeing include last year’s failure during a test of their launch interrupt engines, which knocked out caustic fuel at the test site, Boeings Barrett said. The accident was caused by incorrect valves that Boeing has re-planned and rearranged from the supplier, even though the new valves have to be tested again, Barrett said.

The test flights are also part of collecting the data needed to close some risk items, NASA said.

“SpaceX and Boeing have both challenges, both comparable, from a security perspective,” said a US government source.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Further reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Washington and Joey Roulette in Orlando, Florida; Editing by Edward Tobin

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Share
Published by
Faela