Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

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Belushi TD
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Belushi TD »

How long do they have before Starliner can't make the return? They were supposed to return, what, two and a half weeks ago? Is the helium still leaking?

And its a good point about the consumables. On the plus side, NASA can always throw another 250 million at SpaceX to have them launch another cargo shot to resupply!

Belushi TD
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jemhouston
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by jemhouston »

Starliner will return. If the crew is onboard, is the question.
Belushi TD
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Belushi TD »

I wonder if they will end up sending a recovery capsule from SpaceX and stripping everything useful out of Starliner before sending it back on autopilot.

One other possible option.... If Starliner can't return safely, can they just leave it up there attached to the Space Station for extra storage or as a parts source, or does it occupy the only airlock? My lack of knowledge of how the ISS works is pretty huge.

Belushi TD
kdahm
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by kdahm »

Timetables:

There are some systems on Starliner that have a 45 day window after launch for use. That's not the actual usable life, that's the permitted life. NASA can and has issued waivers before whenever they want to.

The Starliner has about ten times the helium than it needs. The leaks are very small compared to that.

Supposedly, NASA has already given the green light for the astronauts to return on Starliner. Boeing and NASA just want to do a lot more testing with the service trunk, because they're not getting it back and the thrusters are in it. Of course, it's been a while and I think they should have already gotten the data they need.

There are multiple docking ports at the ISS on the US side. Regardless of what else happens, they can always cast off Starliner on remote and deorbit it into the ocean. It's no good as a parts source, and they have no need for extra storage taking up one of the docking ports. That's what they have the cargo Dragon or Cygnus capsules for, as a waste dump until those are cast off and return the trash to Earth.
Kunkmiester
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Kunkmiester »

Just write this one off for destructive testing.

Send a dragon up with some parts.

Starliner is pulled out from the dock. Astronauts pull the parts in question from the capsule to bring back for detailed study. During the eva the aforementioned parts are used to attach thrusters on the docking ring.

Parts to study come home on Dragon to look at, capsule is deorbited and discarded.
kdahm
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by kdahm »

Kunkmiester wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 4:03 pm Just write this one off for destructive testing.

Send a dragon up with some parts.

Starliner is pulled out from the dock. Astronauts pull the parts in question from the capsule to bring back for detailed study. During the eva the aforementioned parts are used to attach thrusters on the docking ring.

Parts to study come home on Dragon to look at, capsule is deorbited and discarded.
That's untenable.

Boeing's already had to eat an extra test flight of an empty Starliner. If they don't bring the astronauts home on this one, they'll have to do another demo launch. Since all of the Atlas rockets are already allocated, that reduces the pay flights to five.

NASA also has too much political capital tied up in this thing. They have for years been pronouncing the need for two independent launch systems, have been backing Boeing as the first, then second choice, and would have to eat their words if it doesn't pan out. Thus the whole rigamarole to test at the ISS, so they can go to the actual crewed flights instead of another demo.

Also, retrieving parts from the thrusters is impossible. When they were working on corrosion issues in the piping, it took months on the ground to disassemble the thing enough to get at the necessary pieces. It's not happening in an EVA.
Belushi TD
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Belushi TD »

As to your last point, I'm not sure it follows. The whole "took months to disassemble" was when they were trying to disassemble it in order to be able to reassemble it. If all you want is certain parts out of it, you don't have to be anywhere NEAR as careful.

Of course, you do raise a good point about launch vehicles and such.

Belushi TD
Johnnie Lyle
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Johnnie Lyle »

Belushi TD wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:31 pm As to your last point, I'm not sure it follows. The whole "took months to disassemble" was when they were trying to disassemble it in order to be able to reassemble it. If all you want is certain parts out of it, you don't have to be anywhere NEAR as careful.

Of course, you do raise a good point about launch vehicles and such.

Belushi TD
I have done a little zero-g simulator work, and working in zero-g is a cast iron bitch. You’re constantly having Newton’s Second Law bite you in the ass as you have to account for all the forces on you and the object you are working on that you don’t usually on Earth. Any kind of assembly/disassembly is really hard. And while it is certainly easier than it was, any kind of spacesuit work is physically exhausting and a lot slower than on Earth, far beyond just wearing the bulky suit.

Even just junking it in orbit is going to take a lot of work and use up a lot of resources on lots of spacewalks.
kdahm
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by kdahm »

Belushi TD wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:31 pm As to your last point, I'm not sure it follows. The whole "took months to disassemble" was when they were trying to disassemble it in order to be able to reassemble it. If all you want is certain parts out of it, you don't have to be anywhere NEAR as careful.

Of course, you do raise a good point about launch vehicles and such.
I'd agree with Johnnie. It's simply not that easy, not like pulling the fuel injector block off an old tractor. The thrusters are behind paneling, everything is secured from the inside, and there's no telling how much other stuff needs to be moved out of the way to get to them. Plus, the ISS has a specific set of tools designed for whats up there, and probably not a lot of what would be needed for the service module. I'd doubt if there were an EVA rated sawzall or cutting wheel setup either.

At the most would be uploading a program so that the service module could boost itself back to a semi-stable orbit after separating from the capsule. Then plan on a retrieval mission.

Or just do a boatload of testing where it is, let it burn up, do better quality control on the next service module, and hope for the best.
Belushi TD
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Belushi TD »

Are we really sure that they used different sized bolts/nuts/screws for stuff that would STAY in orbit versus stuff that would go up and come down? I am going to assume that the tools they use in orbit are the same sizes as the tools they use on Earth. Anything else would be insanity writ governmental scale.

While I will grand you the fact that EVA work is FAR more difficult than doing similar work in 1G, I am unwilling to concede that ripping something out without concern about what else might get damaged is going to cause a similar time delay in comparison to what would happen on Earth. There is NO FUCKING WAY that someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, with no regards to re-entry" is going to take a similar amount of time to remove a part compared to someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, but we need to make sure we can launch the motherf&cker afterwards".

Belushi TD
Johnnie Lyle
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Johnnie Lyle »

Belushi TD wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 3:13 am Are we really sure that they used different sized bolts/nuts/screws for stuff that would STAY in orbit versus stuff that would go up and come down? I am going to assume that the tools they use in orbit are the same sizes as the tools they use on Earth. Anything else would be insanity writ governmental scale.

While I will grand you the fact that EVA work is FAR more difficult than doing similar work in 1G, I am unwilling to concede that ripping something out without concern about what else might get damaged is going to cause a similar time delay in comparison to what would happen on Earth. There is NO FUCKING WAY that someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, with no regards to re-entry" is going to take a similar amount of time to remove a part compared to someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, but we need to make sure we can launch the motherf&cker afterwards".

Belushi TD
I dunno. EVA in Zero G is really hard to work in, and a LOT of your energy is spent fighting Newton. Granted, modern astronauts are both a lot better trained/acclimatized and equipped than I was, but it’s still really hard work. The concern would be less about time and more about wear and tear on astronauts, equipment and consumables. It’s far less risky to just send the damn thing home.

Honestly, the only reason to care are the astronauts who would have to ride the damn thing down to Earth. Otherwise, fuck Boeing for foisting crap on their customers and fuck NASA (and Musk’s enemies in the Biden Administration) for being the US Steel of space.
warshipadmin
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by warshipadmin »

I was idly amusing myself by designing a zero g angle grinder. Two counter rotating discs would do a good job of chomping through space grade aluminium while simplifying the job for the astronut. It is still a fairly terrifying tool to have near your spacesuit.
Johnnie Lyle
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Johnnie Lyle »

warshipadmin wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 3:47 am I was idly amusing myself by designing a zero g angle grinder. Two counter rotating discs would do a good job of chomping through space grade aluminium while simplifying the job for the astronut. It is still a fairly terrifying tool to have near your spacesuit.
Using an angle grinder in a vacuum sounds like a really stupid and terrifying way to die. Nobody wants to go because a stray shard of metal knicks your suit and it (and you) explosively decompress.
warshipadmin
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by warshipadmin »

true dat.
Johnnie Lyle
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Johnnie Lyle »

At least it would be quick
David Newton
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by David Newton »

Belushi TD wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 3:13 am Are we really sure that they used different sized bolts/nuts/screws for stuff that would STAY in orbit versus stuff that would go up and come down? I am going to assume that the tools they use in orbit are the same sizes as the tools they use on Earth. Anything else would be insanity writ governmental scale.

While I will grand you the fact that EVA work is FAR more difficult than doing similar work in 1G, I am unwilling to concede that ripping something out without concern about what else might get damaged is going to cause a similar time delay in comparison to what would happen on Earth. There is NO FUCKING WAY that someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, with no regards to re-entry" is going to take a similar amount of time to remove a part compared to someone who has been told "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, but we need to make sure we can launch the motherf&cker afterwards".

Belushi TD
Actually there are protocols that would need to be followed that make it still very arduous and onerous. The main one is avoiding new space junk. A lost bolt is a significant impact risk and thus they have to be very careful about that.

In the orbit of the ISS the bolt would eventually re-enter the atmosphere but it would still be around for years.
Rocket J Squrriel
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Rocket J Squrriel »

Another problem is that there is no way to practice before actually doing it. Also do the suits have a camera that can give ground an astronaut eye view of things?
gtg947h
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by gtg947h »

Johnnie Lyle wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:42 pm I have done a little zero-g simulator work
...wait.

What?!

1. How did you get an opportunity to do that?

2. Can you hook a brother up? :mrgreen:
Belushi TD wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 3:13 am Are we really sure that they used different sized bolts/nuts/screws for stuff that would STAY in orbit versus stuff that would go up and come down? I am going to assume that the tools they use in orbit are the same sizes as the tools they use on Earth. Anything else would be insanity writ governmental scale.
Hardware intended for in-space (dis)assembly will use standard sizes, but they probably limit the number of sizes/bits to minimize tool count. The hardware on the spacecraft, intended only for assembly on earth, will probably use the standard aerospace solution of many different size bolts/nuts, multiple different forms of screw drive bits, permanently-installed fasteners, and more. The ISS isn't exactly equipped with a fully-stocked Snap-On toolbox like the ones in the hangars at work, so it's quite possible they wouldn't have tools that would fit. Plus, what can be trivial--or at least mildly inconvenient--to access on earth, in shirtsleeves or even a bunny suit, could be downright impossible to get to in a spacesuit. That leaves aside things like tool clearances and weird stuff like vacuum welding that you aren't concerned about when the thing you launched into space is never intended to be disassembled. And as others have mentioned, junkyard hacking in space is a Bad Idea for many reasons like orbital debris mitigation and spacesuit integrity.
Belushi TD wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 3:13 amWhile I will grand you the fact that EVA work is FAR more difficult than doing similar work in 1G, I am unwilling to concede that ripping something out without concern about what else might get damaged ... "We need X Y and Z module out of the capsule, with no regards to re-entry"
Problem is, they do still need the stuff that's malfunctioning, if nothing else to be able to drag the empty capsule away from the station and perform a controlled de-orbit (so pieces don't land places they aren't supposed to). If the decision is made to "rescue" the astronauts with a Dragon I'm sure Boeing still wants the command module back (it's intended to be reusable).
Johnnie Lyle
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Johnnie Lyle »

gtg947h wrote: Thu Jul 11, 2024 9:54 pm
Johnnie Lyle wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:42 pm I have done a little zero-g simulator work
...wait.

What?!

1. How did you get an opportunity to do that?

2. Can you hook a brother up? :mrgreen:
Space Camp.

It’s freaking awesome. Probably even better now.
Marko Dash
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Re: Once seen as the future, Boeing struggles to make a case for Starliner

Post by Marko Dash »

If you've got a decent computer for it give 'hardspace shipbreaker' a try on steam (or just watch some YouTube videos of it). It's a bit sci-fi (laser cutters and gravity tethers) but it handles things like explosive decompression and such.
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