Skip to content
 
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Ars Technica)   Tests reveal what caused the stuck valves that has grounded Boeing's Starliner until next year: Florida summers are humid   (arstechnica.com) divider line
    More: Facepalm, Rocket, Kennedy Space Center, Spaceflight, Space Shuttle, Boeing officials, International Space Station, Spacecraft, Launch vehicle  
•       •       •

522 clicks; posted to STEM » on 19 Oct 2021 at 11:46 PM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



21 Comments     (+0 »)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2021-10-19 6:41:23 PM  
Not the humidity, it's the salt. A metallurgist can tell you that.
 
2021-10-19 7:08:01 PM  
Too bad this launch site hasn't been used enough to give us that information.
 
2021-10-19 7:53:47 PM  
Sounds like Boeing hired the Engineers that left Morton Thiokol in the '80s
 
2021-10-19 11:56:13 PM  
They know it was water. The mystery is where it came from.

Fun puzzle for Boeing
 
2021-10-20 12:04:34 AM  
Snake-bit spacecraft.
 
2021-10-20 12:12:44 AM  

dionysusaur: Sounds like Boeing hired the Engineers that left Morton Thiokol in the '80s


Morton Thiokol's engineers said not to launch, otherwise there would have been no conference call. NASA and Morton Thiokol's management were pushing the launch because of the prior postponements for the mission.
 
2021-10-20 12:21:24 AM  
YA DUMBSH*TZ THIS IS WHY YOU FAIL
 
2021-10-20 12:27:04 AM  
Meanwhile, SpaceX fishes their capsules out of the water, gives them a new coat of paint, and launches them again.

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-10-20 1:00:22 AM  
At least the o-rings didn't freeze and crack.
 
2021-10-20 1:42:49 AM  
This oxidizer has been flown from the Cape for over 70 years. Everything that has to be done to make reliable valves for this exact engineering problem has been publicly known for over 50 years. Boeing has flown over a thousand engines using it. So how the hell did this become a problem?
 
2021-10-20 2:36:59 AM  

cretinbob: Not the humidity, it's the salt. A metallurgist can tell you that.


The iron nitrate compounds formed after water mixed with nitrogen tetroxide and made nitric acid are salts, but I don't think that's what you meant.

This is none the less pretty facepalm inducing.
 
2021-10-20 3:01:08 AM  
This could be a blessing in disguise.  The fact that the valves corroded probably means they were poorly made (not sealed well seems likely if their nitric acid theory is correct, or wrong alloy, or other mistakes), and better to corrode and fail on the launchpad than not to corrode and fail in flight.  That means someone at Boeing procured shjtty valves and ended up delaying launch by half a year, but better that than a failed launch.
 
2021-10-20 5:25:31 AM  
Somebody in procurement decided the "Squasmoxa" valves at the top of the Amazon search page looked pretty good. 4.1 stars, a couple good reviews and they were available for 2 day delivery! How can you lose?
 
2021-10-20 5:45:00 AM  

ExYank: This oxidizer has been flown from the Cape for over 70 years. Everything that has to be done to make reliable valves for this exact engineering problem has been publicly known for over 50 years. Boeing has flown over a thousand engines using it. So how the hell did this become a problem?


Could have used a new material formula for the valves, or for the coating on them. A lot of people struggle with the concept of dont fark with things that work fine, and think a cheaper way to do it is automatically better
 
2021-10-20 7:10:17 AM  

ExYank: This oxidizer has been flown from the Cape for over 70 years. Everything that has to be done to make reliable valves for this exact engineering problem has been publicly known for over 50 years. Boeing has flown over a thousand engines using it. So how the hell did this become a problem?


Chances are that the design was 100% fine and this was a procedure farkup that opened something to the atmosphere that was supposed to stay sealed or skipped an inert gas purge before fueling.  Boeing quit giving a damn about quality and diligence a long time ago.
 
2021-10-20 8:42:21 AM  
SpaceX's first two successful launches were done in a small tropical island in the Pacific Ocean. I got to imagine that things were wetter and more humid than Florida especially since they had huge problems with salt.
 
2021-10-20 12:23:06 PM  
Have to give credit to Boeing for a successful result from their rocket surgery.
 
2021-10-20 12:31:08 PM  

aerojockey: This could be a blessing in disguise.  The fact that the valves corroded probably means they were poorly made (not sealed well seems likely if their nitric acid theory is correct, or wrong alloy, or other mistakes), and better to corrode and fail on the launchpad than not to corrode and fail in flight.  That means someone at Boeing procured shjtty valves and ended up delaying launch by half a year, but better that than a failed launch.


My company makes valve components; we're a contract supplier to a control-systems company that does work for UAL, SpaceX, Boeing, etc.  The expense isn't in the materials, it's in the work to make the components.

316 stainless is commonly used.  Even requiring material certs and "made in USA", the price of the steel is only a few bucks per pound, and a lot of these components only weigh a small fraction of a pound.  The shop rate for fabrication and inspection is something on the order of $110/hour.  Nearly all the cost of making a component is in the labor for paperwork, fabrication, and inspection, not in the actual material itself.  And in small batches, the setup costs can seriously outweigh the fabrication costs.

Now, you can add on more services, like non-destructive testing, heat treating (not for 300-series stainless steels) and perhaps various coatings, but all that serves to make the material cost even less significant.

There are exceptions to the material cost, of course.  Some plastics cost hundreds of dollars a pound!
 
2021-10-20 12:59:03 PM  

krispos42: aerojockey: This could be a blessing in disguise.  The fact that the valves corroded probably means they were poorly made (not sealed well seems likely if their nitric acid theory is correct, or wrong alloy, or other mistakes), and better to corrode and fail on the launchpad than not to corrode and fail in flight.  That means someone at Boeing procured shjtty valves and ended up delaying launch by half a year, but better that than a failed launch.

My company makes valve components; we're a contract supplier to a control-systems company that does work for UAL, SpaceX, Boeing, etc.  The expense isn't in the materials, it's in the work to make the components.

316 stainless is commonly used.  Even requiring material certs and "made in USA", the price of the steel is only a few bucks per pound, and a lot of these components only weigh a small fraction of a pound.  The shop rate for fabrication and inspection is something on the order of $110/hour.  Nearly all the cost of making a component is in the labor for paperwork, fabrication, and inspection, not in the actual material itself.  And in small batches, the setup costs can seriously outweigh the fabrication costs.

Now, you can add on more services, like non-destructive testing, heat treating (not for 300-series stainless steels) and perhaps various coatings, but all that serves to make the material cost even less significant.

There are exceptions to the material cost, of course.  Some plastics cost hundreds of dollars a pound!


Cool, not exactly sure what this has to do with what I wrote, though.
 
2021-10-20 2:50:16 PM  
My God, Boeing, when do you want me to launch--next April?
 
2021-10-20 8:36:47 PM  

aerojockey: krispos42: aerojockey: This could be a blessing in disguise.  The fact that the valves corroded probably means they were poorly made (not sealed well seems likely if their nitric acid theory is correct, or wrong alloy, or other mistakes), and better to corrode and fail on the launchpad than not to corrode and fail in flight.  That means someone at Boeing procured shjtty valves and ended up delaying launch by half a year, but better that than a failed launch.

My company makes valve components; we're a contract supplier to a control-systems company that does work for UAL, SpaceX, Boeing, etc.  The expense isn't in the materials, it's in the work to make the components.

316 stainless is commonly used.  Even requiring material certs and "made in USA", the price of the steel is only a few bucks per pound, and a lot of these components only weigh a small fraction of a pound.  The shop rate for fabrication and inspection is something on the order of $110/hour.  Nearly all the cost of making a component is in the labor for paperwork, fabrication, and inspection, not in the actual material itself.  And in small batches, the setup costs can seriously outweigh the fabrication costs.

Now, you can add on more services, like non-destructive testing, heat treating (not for 300-series stainless steels) and perhaps various coatings, but all that serves to make the material cost even less significant.

There are exceptions to the material cost, of course.  Some plastics cost hundreds of dollars a pound!

Cool, not exactly sure what this has to do with what I wrote, though.


Oh, um, I did go on a bit there. My point is that it's probably not "poorly made", so much as a poor choice in materials. Or a procedure not followed, or the procedure not written properly.

Our customer that I mentioned demands a mirror finish on poppet seating surfaces; even a slight longitudinal or spiral scratch is cause for rejection. Many of the gases the poppets control are under high pressure and have very small atoms (hydrogen, helium), to the point that nothing is "gas- tight", there is just an allowable level of leakage. A faint scratch can push a system past the "allowable" level as it becomes a highway for escaping gas.
 
Displayed 21 of 21 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

This thread is closed to new comments.

Continue Farking




On Twitter


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.