NASA and Boeing will form a team to investigate Starliner glitch

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has published an update on the failed Boeing Orbital Flight Test, revealing that the space agency is working with the private company to launch a joint independent team to investigate what went wrong. The people on this team will be tasked with looking into the problems that led to the Orbital Test Flight issue and with making recommendations to help protect future launches.

Last month, Boeing launched an uncrewed version of its Starliner capsule with the intention of docking it with the International Space Station. This was a test mission taking place under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, one that involved a successful launch but a failed flight. The reason, it was soon revealed, was due to an issue with the capsule's internal clock, which was disrupted when the engines burned and put the capsule into the wrong orbit.

According to Bridenstine, the independent team will investigate the issues that caused this problem, including the internal clock glitch specifically and any other issues that may have contributed to the problem. As well, the team will look into any factors that may have contributed to the failed flight and ultimately provide its recommendations on how to design the system for future flights.

NASA anticipates this investigation lasting two months leading up to the team's final assessment. For its part, the space agency says that it is looking into the data it acquired during the flight to figure out whether Boeing will be required to conduct another uncrewed test mission. The Starliner capsule, though it didn't hit the correct orbit, did safely land and was recovered.

NASA will be looking into whether the uncrewed launch provided enough data to determine the capsule's guidance, navigation, overall performance, docking and undocking systems, and more. Bridenstine says that the uncrewed mission may not be the only way Boeing can demonstrate some of these capabilities. The space agency says that successfully docking the capsule with the ISS may not be required before a crewed flight takes place.