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U.S. Space Program Could Be Delayed Due To SpaceX, Boeing Design Risks: Reuters


U.S. Space Program Could Be Delayed Due To SpaceX, Boeing Design Risks: Reuters
The plan of the United States to revive human spaceflight program later this year would be threatened because of design and safety concerns of the astronaut launch systems of SpaceX and Boeing Co, NASA has warned, reported news agency Reuters quoting a few industry sources and a new government report.
Rocket and capsule launch systems construction contracts have been awarded to SpaceX for $2.6 billion and to Boeing for $4.2 billion by NASA. These systems would used for take and return astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station. This is the first attempt by the US to take astronauts into space ever since America’s Space Shuttle program was scuttled in 2011.
In its 2018 annual report published earlier this month, four “key risk items” were cited by NASA’s safety advisory panel just ahead of the un-manned test flight which would be the first for the country and schedule dot be held on March 2 as a part of NASA’s multibillion-dollar Commercial Crew Program.
Issue with the capsule’s structural vulnerability when the heat shield is deployed is the problem identified for Boeing in the report. It also indentified issues in the redesigning of a SpaceX rocket canister after the company faced an explosion in 2016 while mentioning SpaceX. It also added that there are problems with the “load and go” process of fueling of the rocket while there are crew inside the capsule. The report noted that an issue common for both companies was “parachute performance”.
“There are serious challenges to the current launch schedules for both SpaceX and Boeing,” the report said.
The four items listed are not the only ones that are a cause of concern for the US space agency, reported Reuters citing information from two sources. Those issues include a risk ledger that as of early February contained 30 to 35 lingering technical concerns each for SpaceX and Boeing. Sources also reportedly said that before both the companies can hope to fly astronauts and, eventually, tourists to space, they have to address “most” of those concerns of NASA.
While asking the media to inquire all of the issues raised in the report with Boeing and SpaceX, NASA spokesman Joshua Finch told the media: “Flying safely always takes precedence over schedule.”
When Boeing completed its structural test program in January, it had “closed out” the capsule’s structural vulnerability risk, said Boeing spokesman Josh Barrett. He added that even though work on a number of other issues is being carried out by Boeing, those issues “are not driving any major architectural system changes.”
“Our numbers show we are exceeding NASA’s safety requirements,” said Barrett.
“One of the safest, most-advanced human spaceflight systems ever built” has been developed by SpaceX while working with NASA, said the company spokesman James Gleeson. “There is nothing more important to SpaceX than safely flying crew,” said Gleeson, calling it “core to our company’s long-term goal of enabling access for people who dream of flying to space.”