I can’t believe NASA would even consider a crewed flight without another uncrewed flight. The awesomeness of autonomous spacecraft is that you can fly them until you get things right. My old company has flown its spacecraft numerous times without any major issues, but they’re still doing missions to make sure everything is safe before putting a person on. Boeing had a MAJOR issue, and what’s troubling to me is that it’s the sort of fault that should have been avoidable with proper ground simulation. Some things are hard to test on the ground, like getting high confidence in aerodynamics, for example, but proper timing should have possible to ground test.
This also just makes me wonder what is going on with Boeing. Are they capable of making safe aircraft and spacecraft? Their recent track record is just not great. I’d love to know more about their software development process for spacecraft. I’m familiar with the approach used here in Seattle for aircraft. It’s industry standard (for aerospace), but I honestly feel it’s flawed, as was obviously demonstrated by the crashes. I think a lot of the approaches used in software today made more sense when software was far less complex. The complexity that today’s powerful computers allow calls for rethinking some of the verification approaches. I think we should be moving away from verification that’s focused on unit testing and moving towards more emphasis on simulation. Both are obviously done, but my experience has been that as the rigor of verification increases, the emphasis shifts from simulation to unit test, to the detriment of the system’s overall reliability.