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Catastrophic software errors doomed Boeing's airplanes and nearly destroyed its NASA spaceship. Experts blame the leadership's 'lack of engineering culture.'

Catastrophic software errors doomed Boeing's airplanes and nearly destroyed its NASA spaceship. Experts blame the leadership's 'lack of engineering culture.'
Jason Redmond/Reuters; Boeing



NASA is investigating Boeing after software coding errors jeopardized its Starliner spaceship's crucial test flight.




One error caused the spaceship's thrusters to fire too early. A second — fixed mid-flight — could have caused a catastrophic crash between two closely maneuvering modules of the spaceship.




Software flaws also caused two Boeing 737 Max plane crashes that killed 346 people. NASA officials mentioned those problems when they announced the new investigation.




Together, multiple government agencies are now questioning whether Boeing's newest planes or spacecraft are safe for people.




One analyst said "there is a clear lack of engineering culture, aeronautical culture, and long-term business culture" on Boeing's board.




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Just 31 minutes after Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spaceship launched into space, Mission Control knew something was wrong.
In the early stages of that crucial test flight on December 20, the Starliner's engines were supposed to fire automatically, setting the ship on a course toward the International Space Station — but they never did.
Mission controllers soon realized the problem: The Starliner's clock was 11 hours ahead. It was following the steps of a phase of the mission it had not yet reached, firing small thrusters to adjust its position.
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