Posts Tagged ‘737 MAX’

NASA and Boeing? Are They Kidding?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos 

Boeing Starliner’s launch was delayed because of a faulty valve.

Boeing Starliner’s launch was delayed because of a faulty valve.

    So I’m scrolling through the daily Associated Press report the other day and, somewhere midway through the news, I spot an article that brought the scroll to a screeching halt:

     “CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Boeing called off its first astronaut launch because of a valve problem on the rocket Monday night.

      The two NASA test pilots had just strapped into Boeing’s Starliner capsule for a flight to the International Space Station when the countdown was halted, just two hours before the planned liftoff.”

      Ummm … I thought to myself: “Boeing? That Boeing? The one that had two 737 MAX jets fall out of the sky five years back killing 346 people, resulting in a grounding of the fleet by the FAA and the firing of the CEO who had focused on profitability over upgrading aircraft design? The Boeing whose 737 MAX fleet was grounded again this past January when a panel flew off a plane in flight because some bolts were loose? The Boeing where loose bolts were subsequently found on other aircraft cleared to fly? The one whose internal culture had been called into question recently by, not one, but two whistleblowers, who pointed out a continuing emphasis on profits and major lapses in what should be basic safety procedures? The Boeing who has had, not one, but two whistleblowers recently mysteriously turn up dead? That Boeing?

   “That Boeing is sending manned capsules to the International Space Station? Or at least trying to?”

     Am I missing something here?

      Clearly, it had escaped my immediate attention (what with Trump and MAGA, etc.) that, when NASA ended its space shuttle program, it hired private companies (for billions of dollars) to take astronauts to and from the Space Station. Space X, Elon Musk’s baby, has been doing it since 2020. This was to be Boeing’s maiden voyage.

      It was scuttled because of an “abundance of caution,” according to the CEO of the company in charge of launch procedures. Apparently, an oxygen pressure-relief valve on the Atlas rocket started fluttering open and closed, creating a loud buzz. Apparently that’s not a good thing.

    The CEO said the valve may have exceeded its 200,000 lifetime cycles, meaning it would have to be replaced. Well, yeah, probably better than exploding somewhere out there on the way to the Space Station.

    To me it sounds like the same kind of basic problem as loose bolts on an airplane panel. “Hey, Joe, anyone know how many times this valve’s been used? Huh? Yeah, looks good to me, too.”

       Ok, people. Long time to get to my point, but I think you get it. What in the world is Boeing, withs its history of deadly carelessness and two dead whistleblowers doing with a multi-billion dollar contract with NASA to ferry astronauts in space and get anywhere near the Space Station?

       They were talking about maybe trying again Friday, if the valve checked out good, or pushing the launch to next week giving them time to install a new valve. Eventually, they decided to roll the rocket off the launchpad, check all the valves and try again on May 17.

      Good decision. Actually, I wouldn’t go at all. Instead, I’d urge Congress to question NASA’s decision to even do business with Boeing. And I’d get the FBI working on those dead whistleblowers.