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NASA, Boeing to Investigate Orbital Flight Test

By | January 8, 2020

NASA officials during a press conference following the launch of Boeing Starliner on Dec. 20. Photo: NASA

NASA and Boeing are in the process of establishing a joint, independent investigation team to examine the issue with Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, the space agency announced Tuesday. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test on Dec. 20 missed its objective to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) because a necessary orbital burn did not happen after there was an anomaly with the mission elapsed timer. 

NASA did not give details on who will be named to the team, but said the investigation is expected to last about two months once it begins. Its goal will be to find the root cause of the mission elapsed timer anomaly and any other software issues. The team will also provide corrective actions needed before flying crew to the ISS for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing has not yet issued a statement about the investigation. 

In addition, NASA said it is working to decide if another uncrewed demonstration is required, and that decision is not expected for several weeks. The agency is working to determine if enough data was received to validate the system’s overall performance, including launch, on-orbit operations, guidance, navigation and control, docking/undocking to the space station, reentry and landing. 

“Although data from the uncrewed test is important for certification, it may not be the only way that Boeing is able to demonstrate its system’s full capabilities,” the NASA release said.