Boeing’s Starliner test nearly ‘catastrophic’ failure, NASA says

Boeing's Starliner test nearly 'catastrophic' failure, NASA says thumbnail

Boeing (NYSE:BA) narrowly missed a “catastrophic failure” during its December flight test of the Starliner space taxi that was cut short, according to a NASA safety review panel which recommends examining the company’s software verification process before letting it fly humans to space.

The newly revealed software bug, which Boeing said was fixed while the spacecraft was still in orbit, could have “led to erroneous thruster firings” that could have resulted in “a catastrophic spacecraft failure,” one of the panel members said.

Boeing and NASA had been focusing on an unrelated glitch with the Starliner’s automated timer after the capsule failed to reach its intended orbit 30 minutes into flight.

NASA still must decide whether to make Boeing repeat the unmanned docking test before the craft can carry astronauts; Boeing recorded a $410M charge last month to cover that possibility.

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