Boeing’s progress on Starliner software for test flight in March – SpaceFlight Now


The crew module Boeing’s second Starliner spacecraft has been lifted on January 13 inside the commercial crew and cargo processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Sincerely: Boeing / John Profers

Boeing said on Monday that it is re-qualified software for the company’s Starliner crew capsule after making the first orbital test flight cut of the spacecraft in 2019, and Kennedy Space Center technicians brought crew and service modules to the next epilated Starliner Test flight is linked. To the International Space Station in March.

NASA and Boeing officials are officially targeting March 29 for a second Starliner Orbital flight test, a repeat of the first test flight in 2019, when software problems prevented the capsule from docking with the space station. Boeing and NASA managers agreed to re-fly the OFT mission last year to demonstrate an entire Starliner flight sequence before the craft was cleared to fly astronauts.

The Starliner landed safely in New Mexico, but engineers reviewed the software code of all spacecraft to prevent duplication of problems on the first OFT mission.

Several NASA and industry officials have said that the launch of the OFT-2 mission could be extended around March 25. Boeing’s Starliner missions were unloaded on United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets from the Cape Launch Canvasal Space Force Station, and the capsule lands under parachutes, one of several sites in the western United States.

The OFT-2 mission will carry out groundwork for the next Starliner test flight to take three NASA astronauts to the space station later this year, followed by regular crew rotation flights.

Boeing said Monday that engineers had completed a “full review” of Starliner’s flight software. The teams evaluated the process for future modifications and upgrades to the software.

“The work that this team has done to get our software out of our software is a defining moment for the program,” Starliner’s vice president and program manager John Vollmer said in a statement. “We are smarter as a team through this process, and most importantly, we are smarter as a human spacecraft community.”

Meanwhile, a Boeing spokesman said technicians inside the commercial crew and cargo processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center launched the crew and service modules for the OFT-2 mission last week to prepare the spacecraft for launch Was a major milestone in

The crew module Boeing’s second Starliner spacecraft has been lifted on January 13 for a center of weight and gravity measurements inside the commercial crew and cargo processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Sincerely: Boeing / John Profers

Assuming the OFT-2 mission stick with a launch date around March 25, Boeing teams will load the Starliner with hypergolic maneuver propellant before transporting the capsule to the Atlas 5 launch pad next month.

A change in hardware for the OFT-2 mission is the installation of a new docking system cover on the nose of the Starliner crew module. Officials said the door is designed to better protect sensitive docking port components during the heat of re-entry, and will help ensure that according to the spacecraft’s design specifications, the Starliner crew module has at least Less than 10 times can be reused.

Starliner will open the door as soon as it reaches orbit, revealing the craft’s docking interface to connect with the space station. After undocking, the door will close for re-entry. The cover is similar to the purpose of the nose cone gate on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Boeing plans to rotate between two reusable crew modules for all planned Starliner missions. Each flight will use a new service module, which provides propulsion and power generation capability for the spacecraft. The crew module of the OFT-1 mission is being refurbished for Boeing’s crew test flight, the first Starliner mission with astronauts.

NASA in 2014 contracted Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner and Crew Dragon spaceships for the astronauts and the ferry from the space station. Both programs have faced technical delays, but SpaceX successfully launched its first two crew missions – a test flight and its first operational crew rotation mission – last year, for the first time since the end of space in the United States. Restoring manned spacecraft capability for. Shuttle program in 2011.

The start of operational flights with Boeing’s Starliner will give the United States two independent spacecraft designs capable of carrying crew in low Earth orbit for the first time in the history of the space program.

Boeing said the software re-qualification milestone sets the stage for end-to-end simulation of the OFT-2 test flight at the company’s Avionics & Software Integration Lab in Houston. End-to-end simulation will “use the final versions of flight hardware and Starliner’s flight software,” Boeing said, to properly model the expected behavior of the spacecraft.

According to Boeing, the simulation will last for several days, ranging from pre-launch to docking to undocking software functionality to test and landing.

Software code was not end-to-end rehearsal prior to the OFT-1 mission. An independent NASA-Boeing review team issued 80 recommendations aimed at providing more in-depth software testing, process improvements, and some hardware changes.

Boeing has installed a new docking port cover on the Starliner spacecraft. The actuating cover will fly for the first time on the OFT-2 mission to better protect the docking port during re-entry. Sincerely: Boeing / John Professors

Investigators also recommended NASA officials to improve monitoring of Boeing’s Starliner team.

The software re-qualification effort involved in ensuring Starliner simulators and emulators were properly configured for how the actual spacecraft in flight functioned. The engineers reviewed and updated the software code of the spacecraft, and completed tests inside the software integration lab.

Boeing said the test included “hundreds of cases with core software ranging from single command validation to extensive end-to-end mission scenarios.”

United Launch Alliance, the launch provider of Starliners and NASA spacecraft are involved in software testing to ensure proper integration and docking and undocking on the space station during orbit.

“As we continue these important milestones and reviews, we remain true to our values ​​of safety, quality and integrity,” Vollmer said. “Completing OFT-2 is one step closer to our ultimate goal of taking astronauts from the International Space Station this year.”

Software errors discovered during the OFT-1 mission in December included a Starliner mission elapsed timer clock that was incorrectly set before launch. The problem caused the spacecraft’s computer to think that it was in a different flight phase after deployment of the Atlas 5 rocket in orbit, causing the fire to vibrate and burn too much propellant.

The use of higher-than-expected fuel prevented the Starliner spacecraft from docking with the International Space Station.

Ground teams revealed another software coding error, which caused the service module of the spacecraft to collide with the crew module after the two elements separated before re-entering. During parts of the short-two-day mission, there were also difficulties in establishing a stable communication link between the Starliner spacecraft and NASA’s network of tracking and data relay satellites.

The OFT-2 mission is expected to last approximately one to two weeks.

NASA commercial spacecraft director Phil McAllister said last week that SpaceX’s next crew dragon mission – with four astronauts – is scheduled to begin in March or April, similar to the Starliner OFT-2 test flight.

The space station has two docking ports to receive commercial crew capsules, but the next Crew Dragon flight – known as Crew-2 – will arrive on campus before the departure of the current Crew Dragon mission.

This means that OFT-2 test flight cannot take place during handover between the Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions.

“We will de-conflict those missions as we get a little closer depending on the readiness of the spacecraft and the needs of the ISS,” said McAlester at a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee.

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