During a detailed 75-minute briefing with reporters on Friday, a key Boeing official tried to make the company's problems with his Starliner spacecraft as clear as possible.
After an unscrewed test flight of the spacecraft in December, "Boeing learned some tough lessons," said John Mulholland, a vice president who manages the company's commercial crew program. The December mission landed safely, but had two serious software problems. Now, Mulholland says, Boeing will work hard to restore trust between itself and the vehicle's customer, NASA. Over the past decade, NASA Boeing has paid a total of $ 4.8 billion to develop a safe capsule for the flight of U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
At the start of the briefing, Mulholland attempted to provide information about the vehicle's performance, including its life support systems, heat shield, guidance and navigation. He found that relatively few problems were discovered. However, when he invited questions from reporters, the focus quickly turned to software. In particular, Mulholland was asked several times how the company had made decisions about flight software testing procedures prior to the mission – which led to the two errors.
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