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Boeing space capsule lands after aborted mission

by Samantha Gobba
Posted 12/23/19, 11:11 am

The crew of the International Space Station won’t receive their Christmas presents as planned. An improperly set clock on Boeing’s Starliner space capsule caused officials to abort its planned weeklong test mission and land it in the New Mexico desert on Sunday. Piloted by a test dummy named “Rosie the Rocketeer,” Starliner was to dock with the space station and deliver presents as well as clothes and food to the crew.

Was the mission a complete bust? Boeing and NASA celebrated the capsule’s safe and accurate landing. Starliner is the first American-made capsule designed for astronauts to land on dry ground instead of an ocean splashdown. Boeing officials also were happy to get Starliner back intact for either another test or a mission carrying real astronauts.

Dig deeper: Boeing announced Monday that CEO Dennis Muilenburg is resigning immediately amid ongoing problems with the company’s 737 Max airplanes. Read Rachel Lynn Aldrich’s report in The Sift about Boeing’s decision to halt production of the planes.

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Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 12/23/2019 05:19 pm

    Honestly, I’m worried about Boeing. This early end to the flight—without completing the trip to the space station—was the result of an incorrectly set clock. An earlier test failed because a pin was not properly installed. 

    Add to this the oversights and ignored warnings prior to the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max passenger jets.

    These kind of things point to a culture of failed inspection processes, failure to follow procedures,  possible failure to train workers correctly, and so forth. And all that points to severe failures of management to supervise what is taking place on their watch. 

    In manufacturing settings I’ve worked in, systemic poor supervision came primarily from one thing:  people who got promoted were not chosen because they excelled at what they did and expected excellence from those they worked with. They moved up the ladder because they were very good at kissing up to their superiors, and because their superiors saw that as the main qualification for advancement. This kind of thing generally starts very high in an organization, and it can happen in business, education, medicine, government, everywhere.

    Is this Boeing’s culture?

  •  LowFreq's picture
    Posted: Tue, 12/24/2019 07:44 am


    Great post OldMike and I agree.  It is a very sad testimony of a company that once adhered to absolute safety while also pushing the edge of the envelope. I read a book by the head engineer of the 747 development, Joe Sutter, and what i came away with was how much it mattered to him and his team that they produce a safe aircraft; triple redundancy on the landing gear hydraulics is a good example.  And they were not just trying to update a current airframe (like the 737), but were developing  a whole new aircraft; the first widebody......... and they still did an excellent job in ensuring that anyone who flew on that aircraft would be safe.  And as it stand  right now, most people would feel safer flying an older 747-100 or -200 over the new 737 Max.  Sad.

    The unfortunate answer to your questions "Is this Boeing's culture?", is yes. I know your question was rhetorical, and i am in agreement with you.  I had a workplace friend who left the employer we were both at to take a job with Boeing in Washington state.  He told me after about a year how disappointed he was with Boeing in how they let safety issues go unaddressed.  Since you have worked in manufacturing settings, you get that safety and quality - and the mentality behind both of them - go hand in hand.  There is a philosophy that exists in American manufacturing (the only manufactguring i am personlly familiar with) which looks like this: "We say with our mouths that safety and quality matter, but our decisions and where the budget go tell a different story". And to your point, it can and has happened in other industries.  I believe the upper management thinks they do not have to promote a culture of safety and quality; that the middle management will take care of that.  Apparently, the upper management did not learn (or were never taught) that the culture of a company does start from the top down. Upper management AND middle management and lower management have to all care about safety and quality and it will permeate the culture of the company.  The same is true of course when they do not care.

    I had worked for an airline 25 years ago and they had their "Mission Statemtn" posted around the facility.  It went like this (paraphrasing from memory): 1)Take care of stock holders. 2) Take care of the customer. 3) Take care of the employees.   I was young and inexpereinced, but i knew that was wrong. Stock holders don't care about the customers, only in as much as they can get thier money.  Customers are not supposed to care about the employees, that is the employers job.  But if they would have turned it around, then things would naturally work.  If the company would take it focus off of the stockholders, and instead take care of the employees (which they did not do a good job of) then you would have "happy" employees who would then take care of the customer and the customers would use and buy the product which would then naturally take care of the stockholders. It is unfornutate, but stockholders as an entity (not individuals) do not care about safety and quality, and that character flaw will take over a company.

    Our sin nature rears it's ugly head once more. No suprise.