This isn’t Boeing very well, is it?
Boeing’s troubled CST-100 Starliner capsule, once expected to ferry astronauts to and from space, is heading back to the workshop after suffering mechanical failures.
The spacecraft’s second unmanned flight test was supposed to take place this month though that launch was delayed, and now scrapped, after 13 of the valves controlling the propulsion system used for maneuvering failed a pre-flight check. Although attempts were made to fix the issue on-site, in a press conference on Friday Boeing said it was decoupling the capsule from its Atlas V booster and will be going back to the shop for a rethink.
“Mission success in human spaceflight depends on thousands of factors coming together at the right time,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “We’ll continue to work the issue from the Starliner factory and have decided to stand down for this launch window to make way for other national priority missions.”
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2019 … Credit: NASA/Cory Huston. Click to enlarge, or here for even larger
This is highly embarrassing for an aerospace giant that has worked with NASA since the agency’s inception in 1958. Starliner was supposed to visit the International Station Space in December 2019 in its first test flight but a software problem 31 minutes after liftoff caused its thrusters to fire incorrectly, leaving the crewless cargo-carrying calamity capsule without enough fuel to reach its destination.
The spacecraft then spent two days orbiting our planet before reentering the atmosphere and landing in one piece. The Starliner was supposed to transport Christmas presents to the space station crew from their families. Good job, Boeing.
- Engineers work to open Boeing Starliner’s valves as schedule pressures mount
- Boeing and Rocket Lab hope for the best as both return to launchpad following failures
- There are a lot of people out there who’d like to fire Jeff Bezos into space – but he’s doing the honours himself
- SpaceX flings another bunch of humans into orbit in reused capsule atop reused booster
Today’s announcement will put more pressure on Boeing to shape up and ship some hardware that actually works. After that earlier flight to the International Space Station failed, Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said the American agency had trusted Boeing to get things right and focused much of its scrutiny on newcomer SpaceX, and wrongly assumed Boeing was on top of things with its Starliner project.
Boeing and SpaceX were supposed to be competing for contracts to deliver crew and supplies to the ISS. Elon Musk’s super-geeks have now transported ten astronauts safely to the orbiting science lab while Boeing continues to be, well, Boeing. ®
Other stories you might like
Jury tells Apple to cough up two days of annual profit in 4G/LTE patent damages retrial
And US trade judge reckons Google ripped off Sonos’s tech
This week ended with two separate patent-related blows against Apple and Google in the United States.
On Friday, a jury in Texas awarded $300m in damages to Optis Wireless and its constellation of companies, to be paid by Apple because the 4G/LTE tech in its iPhones, iPads, and Watches were deemed to have infringed Optis’ communications patents.
Optis last year scored $506m in damages from the Cupertino giant. Apple later persuaded District Judge Rodney Gilstrap to order a retrial. Specifically, a retrial to come up with a damages figure that properly took FRAND into account – the notion that standards-essential patents are licensed on a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis.
Once again, Facebook champions privacy … of its algorithms: Independent probe into Instagram shut down
AlgorithmWatch ends newsfeed study after ‘thinly veiled threat’
AlgorithmWatch, a non-profit group based in Germany, said it has been forced to end its efforts to monitor Instagram’s newsfeed after parent company Facebook intervened.
In July, the advocacy organization shuttered its Instagram transparency project, launched in March, 2020, because of alleged veiled legal threats after Facebook claimed the group’s data-collecting browser extension violated its Terms of Service and Europe’s GDPR.
“On 13 July, we took the decision to terminate the project and delete any collected data (media partners still have fully anonymized versions of the data),” said Nicolas Kayser-Bril, a data journalist with AlgorithmWatch, in a blog post published on Friday. “Ultimately, an organization the size of AlgorithmWatch cannot risk going to court against a company valued at one trillion dollars.”
Amazon Game Studios to its own devs: All your codebase doesn’t belong to us
E-goliath’s subsidiary drops ‘draconian’ contract terms that absorbed personal work, demanded license rights
Analysis Amazon Game Studios has reportedly dropped terms in its employment contract that gave the internet giant a license to the intellectual property created by employees, even to games they develop on their own time.
The expansive contractual terms received some attention last month when James Liu, a software engineer at Google, recounted via Twitter how in 2018 he turned down a job offer at Amazon “due to absolutely draconian rules regarding hobbyist game dev.”
His Twitter post from July 6, 2021, since deleted, included a screenshot of a contractual agreement that laid out specific terms by which employees were allowed to develop or release “Personal Games.”
Russia: Forget about the Nauka incident. Who punched the hole in the Soyuz, hmm?
Borked module and fingerpointing puts space relationship with US under strain
Opinion NASA’s relationship with its Russian International Space Station (ISS) partner is under a similar strain to, say, an orbiting outpost that has been given a surprise spin by a malfunctioning module.
The module in question is, of course, the long-delayed Nauka, which made an automatic docking to the ISS on 29 July before sending the complex on a wilder-than-desired ride a few hours later.
Despite reassuring noises from NASA, the incident was a near-disaster for the ISS as Nauka’s thrusters began firing, slowly rotating the station.
Taxpayers foot the bill: HMRC signs up Cognizant for £150m low-code, automation project
Brit tax collection agency’s IT estate contains ‘significant risk’
Britain’s tax collection agency has handed £150m in contracts to integrator and consultant Cognizant, including work to assist with the implementation of Pega low-code and automation systems.
Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) split that deal in two, awarding a £90m portion for building and supporting the Case Management Delivery Group’s (CMDG) Pega Technology Stack.
“The majority of the projected outcome-based work will be ‘build’ related activities funded through relevant business projects,” the tender notice states.
Palantir abandons any attempt at curating nice-guy image with ‘Global Information Dominance Experiments’
COO also talks of recruiting and irradiating the next David Banners of the tech world
For an AI biz associated with the CIA and the much-criticised US immigration agency ICE, whose founder helped finance impeached ex-president and alleged insurrectionist Donald Trump, it might be fair to assume Palantir would endevour to avoid giving the wrong impression.
For example, publicising a project under the title “Global Information Dominance Experiments”, run by the US Airforce, might not be first on the list to create a friendlier image. But that’s not for Palantir.
As if inviting comparison with Bond villains only a Bacofoil bodysuit and height-challenged sidekick would add to, the project “was designed to enable cross-combatant command collaboration to generate globally-integrated effects using artificial intelligence-enabled information,” according to the US military description.
Fancy joining the SAS’s secret hacker squad in Hereford as an electronics engineer for £33k?
Hey MoD, nice to hear from you. What? Not secret any more, you say?
A job ad blunder by the UK’s Ministry of Defence has accidentally revealed the existence of a secret SAS mobile hacker squad.
The secretive Computer Network Operations (CNO) Exploitation Unit had its cover blown on the MoD’s external job ad website, as spotted by the ever eagle-eyed Alan Turnbull of Secret Bases.
Based in Hereford, the £33k-per-year post was to be filled by an “extraordinary talented electronics engineer” [sic] to “work alongside some of the best scientists and engineers within defence and will be tasked with delivering prototype solutions directly to the soldiers and officers of a unique and specialised military unit.”
Microsoft fiddles with Fluent while the long dark Nightmare of the Print Spooler continues for Windows
New Windows 11 toys, fresh new CVE pops out
Microsoft has released a number of Windows 11 updates even as it acknowledges yet more holes found in its flagship operating systems by researchers.
Build 22000.132 hit the Windows Insider Dev Channel overnight. The usual raft of tweaks and improvements included a fix for an explorer.exe crash in the Windows Sandbox and Chat from Microsoft Teams was made available to customers in the Beta Channel.
The emission was accompanied by updates for some of the apps that remain in the Windows 11 box (for Dev Channel Insiders only at present). The old Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps have been replaced by a new Snipping Tool app “that represents the best experiences of both apps in the next evolution of screen capture for Windows,” according to Microsoft. The Mail and Calendar apps have been given the Windows theme and rounded corner treatment. Finally, the open-sourced Calculator app has been warmed over.
UK’s United Utilities water company to splash a possible £270m on analytics, control and monitoring platforms
‘Ethical insight and competitive advantage’ in the pipes if project goes to plan
UK water company United Utilities is in the market for control, monitoring and analytics platforms in a deals that could be worth up to £270m.
In a tender document, the £1.8bn-revenue company said its ambition was “to drive digital transformation, systems thinking and improved service for our stakeholders, customers and community by development of our advanced analytics and information management capabilities, using data tools and skills to deliver ethical insight and competitive advantage.”
The utility firm, which supplies around 1.8 billion litres of water every day, said that with increasing complexity and variety of data available and rapid technological development of sensor and data technology, it needed “to facilitate the processing and analysis of more data in more complex forms.”
Perl Foundation faces more departures after pausing Community Affairs Team
People just won’t quit quitting
The bloodletting within the Perl community has continued in the wake of Community Affairs Team chair Samantha McVey’s resignation.
The CAT was established in March last year to maintain “a community led set of rules” with moderators who would respond to unhappy netizens complaining about “incidents at events or otherwise,” but was controversially put on “hiatus” nearly two weeks ago.
Curtis “Ovid” Poe, who had over a decade as a director of The Perl Foundation (TPF) under his belt, threw in the towel earlier this week, as did Elizabeth Mattijsen, a member of TPF’s Grant Committee.
Before I agree to let your app track me everywhere, I want something ‘special’ in return (winks)…
Help me, officer, I’m lost! ‘No problem, sir, you’re right in front of me’
Something for the Weekend, Sir? “This website is requesting permission to access your location. Yes/No?” Absolutely not. My personal details are sacred!
I learnt this the hard way. An unfortunate experience with what seemed like a harmless little app – RshnMobstr, I think it was called – taught me not to give away too much.
The app asked perfectly innocent questions about my current address, age, occupation… that sort of thing. Oh and my IBAN, mother’s maiden name, the name of my first pet, the brand of my first car, my favourite movie, the last time I cried, my height, weight, length, girth… well, you get the idea. And the next thing I know, a bunch of nosey-parker call-centre staff started ringing me day and night to ask whether I had just used my credit card to purchase a light aeroplane in Murmansk.