back to article Rocket Lab wants to break free, hopes next mission is more 'A Kind Of Magic' than 'Another One Bites The Dust'

SpaceX hit the big five-oh as Boeing continued shuffling its feet and staring at the ground in this week's Queen-infused rundown of rocketry. Rocket Lab summons spirit of Queen for 12th launch Upstart small-sat launcher Rocket Lab has named its next mission, which will deploy payloads for customers including NASA and the …

  1. Milton Silver badge

    Ring any bells?

    "However, there remains no confirmation on if NASA will require Boeing to repeat the test flight. More work, according to the agency, is still required."

    The last sentence reeks of political bullshit.

    The test is, I believe, contractually required before Boeing is allowed to fly a manned mission. It was intended to to verify that the capsule could reach orbit, dock and then safely return to Earth. It did not reach orbit. It didn't dock. Worse, if it had astronauts aboard, one of the discovered failure modes would likely have killed them.

    So in what world can Nasa even be considering letting Boeing off the hook for a full soup-to-nuts real, integrated test? (Not a simulation.)

    It seems that this might be the world in which Nasa is conscious of scheming by the US Congress—completely bought, paid for, names taken and receipts printed by Boeing lobbyists—to make Boeing the sole supplier of manned orbital operations and edge out SpaceX despite the latter's considerably better and cheaper performance.

    If so, it truly stinks. The Boeing approach seems to be: "We cannot compete on performance or price unless we somehow cheat. Whom can we improperly influence to look the other way while we contrive the necessary, devious compromises and kludges?"

    Well, does this ring any bells?

    1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      Re: Ring any bells?

      I honestly believe the best way to make sure Boing management get off their collective backsides and get this sorted properly is to put their loved ones aboard for the last automated test flight of their capsule before the first real crew are sent up.

      There's no point sending the Executives themselves because that's no incentive to the next lot who take over... unless you make it clear they too will continue to serve as "crash test dummies" until the system is proven to be adequately safe.*

      I wonder how many Boards-worth of Execs it will take to get the message through?

      *Any system involving sticking soft squidgy pink bits atop a few (or many) megatons of explosive stuff is going to be a fairly large risk compared to something like crossing the street or jumping into a shark-filled tank wearing Lady Gaga's meat dress...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Ring any bells?

        I honestly believe the best way to make sure Boing management get off their collective backsides and get this sorted properly is to put their loved ones aboard for the last automated test flight of their capsule before the first real crew are sent up.

        What? Loved ones? That would be their shares and bonuses. I prefer sending the board members up... if needed, rinse, repeat and send another batch.

        As a test run, have them fly a couple flights on a 747 MAX.

        1. ma1010 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Ring any bells?

          Sadly, I can give you only one upvote, although you hit the nail on the head. Nowadays most companies seem to be run by psychopaths who don't give a crap for anyone or anything except increasing their bank balance.

          1. The Nazz Silver badge

            Re: Ring any bells?

            Sport too it seems. Though why anyone bothers to make a distinction these days between top level sport and business escapes me.

            https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-51803164

            The actual cost to Exeter of allowing a handful of people in? Nil, plus they'd probably make something on food and drink sales.

            "Wow, we've been turned away, but for the generously small sum of £10 we can buy tickets for the reserves."

        2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Ring any bells?

          Well, fly them from Chicago to Florida on a 737 MAX. The 747 MAX has none of the issues of the 737 MAX, mostly due to the essential non-existence of the former...

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Ring any bells?

            Oops.. fat fingered the keyboard.

        3. Evil_Goblin

          Re: Ring any bells?

          An old university colleague is now a structural engineer in "Persia" - whenever a new bridge is built, the chief engineer has to be the first to drive across it.

          Obviously not as risky these days as it used to be, but still a laudable ambition.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Other interpretations

      Pretend NASA says "Repeat the uncrewed test mission" right now. Boeing goes to their pet senators and says "NASA is picking on us" and the senators do something stupid with NASA funding. I can understand waiting until there are no possible excuses for Boeing before making an announcement.

      There is one thing NASA can actually do: not certify Boeing's capsule for NASA astronauts. In theory that would leave Boeing with cargo runs and (if they get FAA approval) fearless tourists.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Other interpretations

        NASA should insist that a bunch of Boeing 'C' Level execs sit on top of the rocket being tested.

        Then have them be the first to fly the thing should it ever get close to certification.

        Putting their collective asses on the line might make them get their act together.

        The same should apply to the 737-Max8

        Fly it 24/7 for six months with pilots from all the airlines who have bought the lemon at the controls.

        1. Trollslayer Silver badge

          Re: Other interpretations

          I agree with it except the last line.

          The pilots were left in the dark about some things by Boeing.

    3. jaywin

      Re: Ring any bells?

      Sounds to me like Boeing are being given the chance to "decide" they should have another test flight rather than being told to. NASA have been very public about their thoughts on how serious the incidents on the test flight were, it doesn't, to me at least, look like they are trying to either brush their concerns under the carpet or push Boeing towards just giving it a go with crew.

      Whether the Boeing management have the guts to go "we need to have another go at the test flight" or not is the bigger question. It's clear with the scale of the problems that they're going to have to do it, it's just whether they're pushed by someone else or jump first.

    4. Gonzo wizard
      FAIL

      Re: Ring any bells?

      Plus we all know what passes for a simulation here. Like the start of a game of hide and seek where the seeker counts "one, two, miss a few, 99, 100... coming atcha space station, ready or not!"

    5. macjules Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Ring any bells?

      Well this is a tricky situation, but Boeing only have themselves to blame. It's just a simple fact of life so I should think it could happen to any aerospace company.

    6. RobThBay

      Re: Ring any bells?

      "We cannot compete on performance or price unless we somehow cheat...."

      Just like the way they took out Bombardier's C Series passenger jet. Hmmm.... their jet is *way* better than anything we've got....let's get our gov't pals to slap on a crippling tariff.

  2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Between this and the 737-MAX fiasco, who would want to be a Boeing employee right now, really?

    1. Pete4000uk

      Pay me a shed load of money, with a ton of stock options a golden parachute and a seven figure pension and I'll volunteer

    2. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

      I don't think it's the employees that are the real problem here... leastways, not the lower-level ones. They normally do good work. It' the money-grabbing [EXPLETIVE DELETED] at the top of the corporate food chain that took the old mantra "Cut all costs, at all costs" too far.

      Besides, unless they get things sorted soon, there may not be ANY Boeing employees... (who am I kidding? They've sued so many other companies that hardly anyone else goes up against them in competitions any more - and many of those that might end enter up getting bought up instead, or losing the will to keep fighting the American legal system when they win!)

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Between this and the 737-MAX fiasco, who would want to be a Boeing employee passenger right now, really?

      FTFY

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boeing typo

    Should read 'Boing' - the noise their kit makes when used. Followed closely by 'Swoosh' as the constituent parts fly apart in all directions.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Boeing typo

      Generally followed by "boom".

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    The buck will stop

    When they kill a crew and unfortunately that's the way it looks things are going in.

    Simulations and computer modelling are valuable tools but are literally no substitute for actual flight hours.

    I hooe NASA'S peek at Boeing's work culture includes the beancounters and the boys at the top.

  5. Trollslayer Silver badge

    Given that Boeing stopped test(s)

    This time all test results should be scrutinised with Boeing paying for it.

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Will they call the next test flight vehicle the B-Ark?

  7. The Nazz Silver badge

    Here's the deal, NASA

    Look, i've been a Death-Row prisoner now for 17 years, looks like i'll be one for several more.

    For the sake of something different, i'll sit atop the next big rocket and travel to the ISS, behave myself, and IF and when i return to Earth, i'm a free man?

    All for free board and lodgings during the trip.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Here's the deal, NASA

      A Boing! Rocket?

      Cruel and Unusual Punishment.. so denied!

  8. eldakka Silver badge
    Pint

    gah, my head

    this week's Queen-infused rundown

    I've now got A Kind Of Magic and Another One Bites The Dust playing in my head. And Flash too since it seems apt.

    But I'm not sure why I also have Killer Queen mixed in there as well.

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