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Boeing and NASA delay again the 2nd unmanned demo flight of Starliner

Boeing and NASA yesterday announced that they now plan to fly the second unmanned demo flight of Starliner in late March, rather in January as last scheduled.

Though there have been hints for awhile that a launch close to the start of the new year was no longer likely, this announcement confirms those hints. This means that it will have taken Boeing more than a year to fix the software issues that forced the first demo mission to abort its docking with ISS and come back early.

Whether this will delay the manned mission, which they are still targeting for as early as the summer of ’21, remains unclear. I think it will all depend on how well that the demo mission goes.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    Want to bet they found some FORTRAN in there from a long-dead McDonnell-Douglas cowboy programmer? Straightening-out those GOTOs takes forever, you know?!

  • wayne

    I’ll pop this in here…

    This Day in Space December 11, 1972….

    Apollo 17 landing from PDI to Touchdown
    Apollo Flight Journal 2015

  • Dick Eagleson

    Since early this year I’ve been predicting on other forums – and perhaps here as well, I haven’t checked and don’t specifically recall – that, first, there would be an OFT-2 mission required of Starliner, second, that it wouldn’t fly until well into 2021 and, third, that the CFT mission, the test flight with crew, wouldn’t fly until 2022.

    So I was certain the Jan. 2021 date was garbage when announced just as had been the semi-official and less precise September, November and December 2020 timeframes that were successively floated before it. I find the March 29 date just promulgated only marginally more credible. It will gain credibility the longer we wait without another officially announced slip to the right. If no new date is put out there by the end of January, then March 29, or something fairly close in early April, could turn out to be OFT-2’s date after all.

    The only reason for even marginally according March 29 any credibility at all is Boeing’s uncharacteristically rational recent hiring of an ex-SpaceX software development guru to be its V.P. of Software Engineering. He will, doubtless, be under considerable pressure to get things shipshape and to do so as quickly as possible. If he doesn’t bail before the end of January 2021 due to an unbridgeable cultural impedance mismatch, March 29 might just be the earliest “aspirational” goal date that would not be obviously absurd-on-delivery.

    Such an early bail-out is entirely possible, unfortunately. This guy had been at SpaceX for awhile and in very senior positions. Which means his vested equity stake in SpaceX made him already stinkin’ rich when he took the Boeing job. He didn’t take the Boeing job for the money, though I’m sure that was top-drawer. One can readily appreciate the challenge – and the glory, if successful – of turning around a key piece of a badly decayed former enterprise of legend. Still, he’s going to have to do it with a lot more graying Boeing lifers than eager young hotshots. Not a trivial challenge to say the least. And, in the end, perhaps not one he can meet. We shall see.

    Even should Boeing’s new V.P. tough it out, though, I think the odds are still better than even that OFT-2 doesn’t fly until very late 2Q-2021 or sometime in 3Q. That would still put CFT into 2022, though not, perhaps, as deeply in as I thought earlier this year. It is only the possibility of Boeing’s recent big catch being able to shape things up in its software patch that now makes me think there’s a measurable chance of OFT-2 happening on something fairly close to its newly announced schedule and that CFT, in consequence, has at least a tiny chance of also flying before year’s end 2021.

    Just one more way in which 2021 promises to be an “interesting” year in the Chinese proverbial sense.

  • LocalFluff

    @Ray Van Dune
    My father bought a Commodore 64 when I was twelve. I loved GOTO! When you’ve messed up your code, mixing up variables, it’s the get outta here command. The first book I got on programming recommended GOTO, according to the flow chart structure. You know, with arrows going back and forth between boxes, circles and triangles. Horrible, terrible, and horrible again!

    I mailed a contribution to a competition in a British monthly magazine, with the challenge to write the shortest possible BASIC code for a Snake game. I had a solution in less than ten lines and couldn’t see any improvement. The winning contribution was two lines, two! A classic arcade game consisting of two lines of BASIC on the C64. It of course ended with GOTO 1. It must’ve been the guy who cracked Enigma who did that.

    Since security wasn’t a concept in the 1980s, even advanced commercial games could easily have their source code read off the floppy disc. Although they worked well, the code was an entangled mess. Untraceable, incomprehensible. Must’ve been made by a guy who had it all in his mind during the two weeks that he wrote it. Ask him today how what he did there, and he’ll honestly say that he hasn’t got the faintest idea.

    Assembler is fun. JMP is essential. Self modifying code is good for nothing, but fun like solving a riddle, or rather making one up so that it cannot be solved. Changing the address byte after a JMP, so that the same code does different things depending on what I have in my head. Horri… sorry, I said that already. It was convenient(?) to left and right shift some command to change it into another command. I don’t remember the specifics, but if I put it like this: The reason humans aren’t on Mars is that the 1980s came in between. Too great toys, too much imagination and too little utility.

    Now they call themselves project leaders and software “architectures” as if they are choosing roof tile materials. And it works fantastically well. I personally love “design patterns”.

  • Diane Wilson

    @LocalFluff, the whole idea of “design patterns” in software came from architecture. See Christopher Alexander’s books, “A Pattern Language” and “A Timeless Way of Building.” Somehow our software still isn’t as durable.

  • LocalFluff

    @Diane Wilson
    Design patterns is about not inventing the wheel all over again. Some try to push it too far and talk about a language of pattlets and I stop listening right there.
    Durable? Nothing is durable in biology. And software consists of nothing but biology, if you think about it. This will keep on changing ever faster and knowledge about it will become an even more temporary freshware. Nothing can be durable. Everything evolves.

  • wayne

    Jim Keller: Moore’s Law, Microprocessors, and First Principles
    Lex Fridman Podcast #70
    Feb 2020

  • Jay

    The C64, a real by-God computer! My first computer when I was ten years old. Years later when I got my first real professional job, I got to work on a device that used the POKE command. It did not have the 6502 processor but I knew what it was doing. That brought me back.

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