NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] has sounded safety and design concerns for the astronaut launch systems developed by Boeing Co and SpaceX. The astronaut launch systems are a part of U.S. government’s mission to revive the manned space exploration program.
SpaceX and Boeing are being paid $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion respectively to build rocket and capsule launch systems to revive the human space exploration program, according to a Reuters report. NASA has warned the companies of safety concerns just ahead of the unmanned test flight which is scheduled for March 2. NASA’s safety advisory panel listed four “key risk items” in its 2018 annual report published earlier this month.
Sources cited in the report that these four items were not the only concerns of NASA. There are about 30 to 35 technical concerns for the machines of both the companies, the sources cited in the report.
“Flying safely always takes precedence over schedule,” said NASA spokesman Joshua Finch. However, Boeing spokesman Josh Barrett argued that “Our numbers show we are exceeding NASA’s safety requirements.” SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said that the launch system was “one of the safest, most-advanced human spaceflight systems ever built.” “There is nothing more important to SpaceX than safely flying crew. [It is] core to our company’s long-term goal of enabling access for people who dream of flying to space,” Gleeson added.
NASA’s safety panel also found vulnerabilities in the parachute system of SpaceX. The space agency said in its report that SpaceX may be required to redesign its parachute system. This would delay the test flight for weeks or months, said the sources as the redesigned parachute systems would require more testing.
The American manned space exploration program shut down in 2011. In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered NASA to revive the program promising that “America will once again reach for the moon”. The mission aims to send American astronauts to the moon for long-term exploration. It also plans an eventual mission to Mars.
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