NASA finds major issues with software for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft

NASA finds major issues with software for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft
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Boeing is reviewing the software for its Starliner spacecraft after the first test flight in December raised concerns for a potentially disastrous outcome for the newly-designed space capsule.

Boeing officials said on Friday that they are now reviewing all 1 million lines of code in the capsule's computer systems, with an indefinite timeframe on the project's completion, according to The Washington Post's report.

The company has also been handling software issues that emerged in the analysis of the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airplanes that killed 346 people and led to the plane's grounding since early last year. Doug Loverro, the head of human exploration for NASA, said it was unclear if the Starliner's software difficulties and the issues with the 737 Max were connected.

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"We don't know how many software errors we have — if we have just two or many hundreds," Loverro said. "[The] bottom line is that industry is very bad at doing software."

Boeing, he said, very well may have had "a good program, but it was not executed correctly," according to the Post.

NASA has also taken partial responsibility for not checking on some of the recurring problems Boeing was experiencing.

The issues brought about by the faulty software would require a wholesale review of Boeing and its safety procedures, as well as supervision by NASA. Boeing plans to fly humans to space for the first time since the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, according to NASA's safety advisory panel.

NASA claims it was able to fix the issues that surrounded the December launch of the Starliner, which landed safely two days after launch, but said there were many failures throughout the process that could have lead to a disastrous end for the unmanned space capsule.

For now, it is uncertain whether NASA will have Boeing perform another unmanned test before sending astronauts on board the Starliner spacecraft. Officials said they will know more on the matter within the next few weeks.