The Boeing CST-100 Starliner failed an unmanned test because the timer on the spacecraft was off by 11 hours. This caused the spacecraft computer to think it was ahead in mission timing by 11 hours, and started maneuvers at the wrong time, using up attitude control fuel and forcing an abort.

If the spacecraft had been manned would the astronaut pilot(s) have had the instrumentation and control to 1) recognize the problem in time to 2) take manual control to save the mission?

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that any attempt to correct after unwanted maneuvers have started would be at best extremely dangerous. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


According to the NASA Administrator if the crew had been present, yes.

"This anomaly has to do with automation," Bridenstine said. "Nicole [Mann] and Mike [Fincke] are trained specifically to deal with the situation that happened today, where the automation was not working according to plan."


Presumably this means that an onboard crew could reset the Mission Elapsed Time (MET). That was certainly the case for Shuttle, although it was not a trivial task.

(I personally am curious as to whether the MET displayed onboard to the crew was in error. It was prominently displayed in the Shuttle cockpit. If so, the error might have been caught by them very quickly.)

However, the Administrator's comments refer only to the MET software error, and were made before the recent revelations of another software error later in the mission that would/could have caused a collision between the crew module and service module at service module jettison.

Assuming that the second problem had not been identified prior to jettison, and in the absence of Mission Control commanding, the crew could have done nothing about that error.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That second software error is indeed extremely scary @OrganicMarble! There seems to be systemic problems at Boeing when it comes to design, development and testing. If the first error hadn't happened engineers wouldn't have caught the second one. Very, very concerning. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ @GdD I agree whole-heartedly. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 14:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.