Author Topic: Boeing's Ferguson on Starliner - no touch screens, but far simpler than Shuttle  (Read 10573 times)


Offline Patchouli

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I think Boeing's approach to a user interface for avionics makes more sense.
« Last Edit: 08/20/2018 06:57 PM by Patchouli »

Offline TrevorMonty

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/08/boeing-starliner-crew-spacecraft/

By Chris Gebhardt
I think Boeing's approach to a user interface for avionics makes more sense.
Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.

Offline kevinof

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I wonder how many of those buttons actually get used on a normal flight? My guess is (unless there is very little automation on the starliner) very very few.


Offline envy887

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I think Boeing's approach to a user interface for avionics makes more sense.

Both are using glass to display virtually all information and to present menus to navigate to, and reserving hard buttons/switches for critical functions.

The only apparent difference (that I see, anyway) is Boeing uses hard buttons (instead of touch) for navigating the display menus, and they have perhaps twice as many switches/buttons for critical functions. I'm sure there are also differences in the way information is displayed and menus are navigated, but we don't know about those yet.

Offline envy887

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I wonder how many of those buttons actually get used on a normal flight? My guess is (unless there is very little automation on the starliner) very very few.

From the article:

Quote
By definition and per the requirements for the Commercial Crew Program, Starliner is perfectly capable of flying itself without any input from a crew up to the International Space Station and docking itself to the lab.

Offline zodiacchris

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I think there are many ways to skin a cat, and the Starliner controls look a fair bit like the cockpit of my aircraft, which I designed. That said, I‘m writing this on a touch screen, so why not avoid the Boeing versus SpaceX angle in this thread? 🤔

Online Coastal Ron

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The competition of ideas is a good thing, and we have to remember that reusable spacecraft of this type is a new thing (Shuttle was a different age/class), so no one really has good experience to draw from.

It will likely take a couple of generations of this type of vehicle before we'll know for sure what type of approach (which may not be either of these two) works best.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline fthomassy

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I wonder how many of those buttons actually get used on a normal flight? My guess is (unless there is very little automation on the starliner) very very few.
"No touch screens" ... so I imagine the buttons, switches and dials may be used quite a lot to get information.
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Offline TripleSeven

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Offline TripleSeven

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I think Boeing's approach to a user interface for avionics makes more sense.

Both are using glass to display virtually all information and to present menus to navigate to, and reserving hard buttons/switches for critical functions.

The only apparent difference (that I see, anyway) is Boeing uses hard buttons (instead of touch) for navigating the display menus, and they have perhaps twice as many switches/buttons for critical functions. I'm sure there are also differences in the way information is displayed and menus are navigated, but we don't know about those yet.

this is very very typical Boeing...if you look at the progression of screen displays and automation in their airplanes...this goes along that time line.  the first airplane that Boeing dabbled in with "screens" was the B737....they worked real hard in the demonstrator to try and figure out how to minimize errors and time in terms of getting to displays and getting information from them. 

not even in the Dreamliner do you navigate to pages by touch screen...as its hard to "muscle memory" touch screens and insure non error without visual checking.  in the triple all the screens are controlled by "hard switches" which I can go to with my "hand" without looking...and since no one is wearing space suits...the feel of the switches confirms this

at least "I" can see in the controls the Boeing legacy of the autopilot flight direction System (AFDS) controls that have been in Boeings since the 300 series was "screened".  boeing has played around with a touch screen version of the AFDS but even "younger pilots" who have grown up on touch screens do not like it...and it goes against every thing that flight safety dictates.

Boeing will never build a vehicle that carries people where there is not the ability for "someone" on the vehicle to monitor the operation of the vehicle and step in and "interact" with the automation.  thats just not in their DNA...

I'll be curious to see which "works"  my guess is that the CST 100 is going to have in some form or fashion a very very long life...and will be extremely versatile...
« Last Edit: 08/20/2018 08:57 PM by TripleSeven »

Offline TripleSeven

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I wonder how many of those buttons actually get used on a normal flight? My guess is (unless there is very little automation on the starliner) very very few.

"today" we did a run in the triple up to the UK and after takeoff...the airplane completely flew itself all the way to touchdown and roll out...it was a demonstration of performance based navigation (ie Using GPS ) to both navigation, and shoot a CAT IIIB landing without using the ILS systems at Heathrow.

Regulatory authorities from the Turkish DGCA, the FAA and EASA were on the flight to monitor the performance of the equipment...

at 400 feet after takeoff I engaged the autopilot...but I used the buttons to "monitor" the performance of the automatic systems just like I normally do.  those buttons will see a lot of use.


Offline ThereIWas3

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A difference with most spacecraft is that you generally do not operate them by looking out the window.  So your attention is entirely on the instrument panel and you do not have to "feel" for the buttons.  And since the launch sequence is entirely automated (even for Boeing), there is no need to be able to hit the right switch while the engines are running, other than the big abort handle.

In Apollo the systems were not very automated at all, so they had to count on Al Bean knowing where that "SCE" switch was located and be able to flip it while under thrust.   These days, such things would be automated anyway.
"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea" - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Offline TripleSeven

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A difference with most spacecraft is that you generally do not operate them by looking out the window.  So your attention is entirely on the instrument panel and you do not have to "feel" for the buttons.  And since the launch sequence is entirely automated (even for Boeing), there is no need to be able to hit the right switch while the engines are running, other than the big abort handle.

In Apollo the systems were not very automated at all, so they had to count on Al Bean knowing where that "SCE" switch was located and be able to flip it while under thrust.   These days, such things would be automated anyway.

my view (having not flown in space :) ) is that the first "graph"  will not be proven correct.

I dont know a launch sequence that has not been automated.  the Shuttle launch sequence was pretty automated...so was Apollo, Gemini and Mercury...there was no ability of the "pilots" to fly the rocket had the autopilot failed...the only question was as you put it "the abort switch"  . SCE to Aux is a "configuration" change...the equivalent switch in all Boeing aircraft (yes there is something like that) is not automated...

how much looking out the window will be done depends on what is being done.  docking/berthing aside ...looking out the window proved very useful in the shuttle and if the Starliner evolves into where I think the company wants to take it, given some funding source :) it will be very useful in the future.  I think that the STarliner will have a very long career and will evolve to do a lot of things, as the future unfolds.  Boeing certainly has plans for that

Starliner could easily evolve into an affordable Apollo system...

most of the time "I" am looking at the various screens in my airplane...and feel for the switches is a big deal...we teach that in training and how Boeing has designed the "shape of things" is to reinforce the feel

for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...



Offline joek

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

On the other hand, as Ferguson said...
Quote
... But I’m inclined to think that further down the road it’ll be like Avis Rent-A-Car. You just get in, you don’t have the owner’s manual, and you drive. ...

Quite a lot of experience to draw from that sector (among others).  Not really a new or unique thing these days.
« Last Edit: 08/20/2018 10:34 PM by joek »

Offline Negan

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?

Offline TripleSeven

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"On the other hand, as Ferguson said...

... But I’m inclined to think that further down the road it’ll be like Avis Rent-A-Car. You just get in, you don’t have the owner’s manual, and you drive. ..."


you missed most of the quote I'll help

"“So I think there’s going to be a pretty steep learning curve, and the initial crews will really have to learn every facet of it.  But I’m inclined to think that further down the road it’ll be like Avis Rent-A-Car. You just get in, you don’t have the owner’s manual, and you drive.

“We’d love to get to that point.  It will never be that easy. But it will be several orders of magnitude better in terms of intensity than Shuttle.”

a few years ago we were in San Fran...when the purser told me that there was a passenger who wanted to ask a question.  I like talking with the yolcu...so I went to the seat in business...and the guy told me that he had seen me do the walkaround but that he had done a lot of preflights onthe triple on microsoft flight simulator...and it was not required to do an inspection of the "drive" door...I told him in very kind words that it was 1) my airlines procedure and 2) Boeing's procedure and 3) I had been a test pilot on the triple with Boeing.

He was kind and said "I have never done a walk around on a real Triple Seven" and my reply was "Fortunately for all of us, I have. many many many times. SAfe flights"

Starliner is going to be an amazing vehicle...it will always have a pilot :)



« Last Edit: 08/20/2018 10:46 PM by TripleSeven »

Offline TripleSeven

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?

yeah and it also has the super helmet neither of which work well :)

Offline joek

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He was kind and said "I have never done a walk around on a real Triple Seven" and my reply was "Fortunately for all of us, I have. many many many times. SAfe flights"

Starliner is going to be an amazing vehicle...it will always have a pilot :)

So now we need a pre-launch walk-around of the LV & SC?  Leave it behind; does not apply.  Yes, these SC will always have a "pilot" because someone has to be in command and ultimately responsible.  Don't conflate that responsibility with the actions you perform piloting an aircraft.  These are not aircraft, they are spacecraft.

Offline TripleSeven

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He was kind and said "I have never done a walk around on a real Triple Seven" and my reply was "Fortunately for all of us, I have. many many many times. SAfe flights"

Starliner is going to be an amazing vehicle...it will always have a pilot :)

So now we need a pre-launch walk-around of the LV & SC?  Leave it behind; does not apply.  Yes, these SC will always have a "pilot" because someone has to be in command and ultimately responsible.  Don't conflate that responsibility with the actions you perform piloting an aircraft.  These are not aircraft, they are spacecraft.

some one a person or persons do the pre launch walk or look  around...I am the last person to do the walkaround... mechanics sign it off for each leg

thats the rules everywhere

being in charge and the "responsible person" is well the lets call it "person in command" in Turkish the translation is "person responsible for the mission"  in english it is "person in command"

not machine :)  I like what the Russians do before they board...but no we dont do that

STarliner is an amazing vehicle..it in my view will be the one that changes history for human spaceflight

:) I am a Boeing person

Online Lars-J

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He was kind and said "I have never done a walk around on a real Triple Seven" and my reply was "Fortunately for all of us, I have. many many many times. SAfe flights"

Starliner is going to be an amazing vehicle...it will always have a pilot :)

So now we need a pre-launch walk-around of the LV & SC?  Leave it behind; does not apply.  Yes, these SC will always have a "pilot" because someone has to be in command and ultimately responsible.  Don't conflate that responsibility with the actions you perform piloting an aircraft.  These are not aircraft, they are spacecraft.

Indeed. Some of the current experience is valid, but at some point your have to let go of the past when it no longer applies. Learn from the past, don't get stuck in it.

Offline Negan

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?

yeah and it also has the super helmet neither of which work well :)

Haven't seen any reported issues about F-35 touch screens. How about nuclear submarines. Looks like the Virginia Class uses them.

"There's no helm, either. The pilot - known as a helmsman on older subs - steers the $2 billion vessel using a joystick that resembles the controller from an old Atari video game system. He can also punch instructions onto a touch-screen control panel and set the boat on auto-pilot"

https://pilotonline.com/news/military/article_ed1d9fd6-9005-5bd1-b2fb-3ce080a4a3ed.html

Offline TripleSeven

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?

yeah and it also has the super helmet neither of which work well :)

Haven't seen any reported issues about F-35 touch screens. How about nuclear submarines. Looks like the Virginia Class uses them.

"There's no helm, either. The pilot - known as a helmsman on older subs - steers the $2 billion vessel using a joystick that resembles the controller from an old Atari video game system. He can also punch instructions onto a touch-screen control panel and set the boat on auto-pilot"

https://pilotonline.com/news/military/article_ed1d9fd6-9005-5bd1-b2fb-3ce080a4a3ed.html

the control panels on a VA class sub are much like the Starliner...you can punch in commands that are registered on the touchscreens but how you punch them in...is the key :)


the "helm" just has a different control ON Lex Class carriers...CV2...they didnt have a helm either

see how it all works out :)

Online Coastal Ron

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?

yeah and it also has the super helmet neither of which work well :)

Haven't seen any reported issues about F-35 touch screens. How about nuclear submarines. Looks like the Virginia Class uses them.

Back in the late 80's I was building flat panel plasma displays (4" thick), with touch panels, to be used in the engine rooms of the then future SSN-21 nuclear subs and the then upcoming DDG-51 naval destroyers.

Quote
"There's no helm, either. The pilot - known as a helmsman on older subs - steers the $2 billion vessel using a joystick that resembles the controller from an old Atari video game system. He can also punch instructions onto a touch-screen control panel and set the boat on auto-pilot"

From what I've been reading a lot of military systems are now using commercial game controllers for input devices because the current generation of recruits knows how to use them.

Of course those are not flight controls, but to your point control interfaces have changed since the days of sticks and rudders connected by cables.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Lar

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Reminiscing about Boeing's old aircraft is not on topic unless it's directly relevant.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Rocket Science

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Panel nicely reflects the evolution from Apollo through the Shuttle glass panel update (albeit simplified) as Fergie points out. I presume they can switch screens for redundancy. I like the traditional reliable "steam gauge" altimeter, makes me feel at home... :) Thanks for the article Chris G!
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 12:35 AM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Patchouli

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Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.


Exactly I think they probably considered touch screens but felt they would not be good to use while in a spacesuit as well as issues such as something accidentally getting triggered by something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen.

Offline Lar

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We've now had two different moderators spending time cleaning this thread up. Please stay on topic. If someone else is off topic, or you have another issue, don't engage, use the report to moderator button. Engaging just makes more work.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 05:10 AM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online docmordrid

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Nagvigating through on-screen menus via (?reliability?) physical buttons/keys, how very MSDOS 🙄

I think Boeing's approach to a user interface for avionics makes more sense.

CBS News...

Quote
>
[astronaut Bob] Behnken said he looked forward to flying the more automated Dragon, a welcome relief compared to the complexity of the space shuttle.

"There were about 3,000 switches inside (the shuttle) and there was no situation that the astronauts couldn't make worse by touching the wrong switch at the wrong time," he said. "We're grateful that the next vehicle we're going to fly on is going to be a little bit more automated."
>
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 05:28 AM by docmordrid »
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Offline Torbjorn Larsson, OM

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The competition of ideas is a good thing, and we have to remember that reusable spacecraft of this type is a new thing (Shuttle was a different age/class), so no one really has good experience to draw from.

It will likely take a couple of generations of this type of vehicle before we'll know for sure what type of approach (which may not be either of these two) works best.

I had a premonition of what a Millennial expect when they are tourist flying these things. Trevor Noah had a segment on a possible Apple car, which was illustrated by a very iPhone-ish body with wheels and him joking on how telling "Siri, take us to Houston" (or equivalent) would not end well.

If it works out it looks like commercial users would expect a transition to a voice communication overlay as long as the craft can contact ground servers for a massive but cheap AI service.

Online Coastal Ron

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I had a premonition of what a Millennial expect when they are tourist flying these things. Trevor Noah had a segment on a possible Apple car, which was illustrated by a very iPhone-ish body with wheels and him joking on how telling "Siri, take us to Houston" (or equivalent) would not end well.

If it works out it looks like commercial users would expect a transition to a voice communication overlay as long as the craft can contact ground servers for a massive but cheap AI service.

It is a fact that autonomous control systems are getting better, and transportation manufacturers are adding more of them over time, not less, so the trend is clear.

To me the choice that Boeing has made reflects a lack of trust that they understand all of the possible failure modes, and there is no way of knowing if they are right until they fly enough.

For SpaceX, for the Dragon series of spacecraft specifically, they apparently feel that they understand all the possible failure modes, and what happens when their automated systems work and don't work. And again, there is no way to know if they are right until they fly enough.

And I think it's too early to know whose approach is more inherently safe, especially since both spacecraft have different ways to fail and to respond to failure.

Anxious to see both in action in order to see what the workload is like...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Rocket Science

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From Bill's CBS article contrasting the Shuttle's 3000 switches in a seemingly negative light in term of complexity. The CST-100 will never be able to perform the multi-roles the Orbiter did including on orbit duration independent of ISS so it's a bit of a red herring... Plus it was a vehicle utilizing the best known technology of it's time that worked pretty much at 100 percent reliability which is the whole point in terms of mission ops and crew safety...
 
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Offline theonlyspace

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The Starliner controls seem much better. Everything is right up front visible incase the pilot needs immediately  or wants to manually fly the ship, Just like Mercury astronauts way back in 1960 wanted controls so not the ground or computers fly ship. No man in the can!!! This is much better than Space X, plus the pilot is much closer to a forward facing window to observe docking not have to watch some screen.

Offline TripleSeven

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I had a premonition of what a Millennial expect when they are tourist flying these things. Trevor Noah had a segment on a possible Apple car, which was illustrated by a very iPhone-ish body with wheels and him joking on how telling "Siri, take us to Houston" (or equivalent) would not end well.

If it works out it looks like commercial users would expect a transition to a voice communication overlay as long as the craft can contact ground servers for a massive but cheap AI service.

It is a fact that autonomous control systems are getting better, and transportation manufacturers are adding more of them over time, not less, so the trend is clear.

To me the choice that Boeing has made reflects a lack of trust that they understand all of the possible failure modes, and there is no way of knowing if they are right until they fly enough.

For SpaceX, for the Dragon series of spacecraft specifically, they apparently feel that they understand all the possible failure modes, and what happens when their automated systems work and don't work. And again, there is no way to know if they are right until they fly enough.

And I think it's too early to know whose approach is more inherently safe, especially since both spacecraft have different ways to fail and to respond to failure.

Anxious to see both in action in order to see what the workload is like...

I agree with that...its not lack of trust, its just prudent design AND it is enabling the inherent flexibility of people to "operate.  boeings theory on automation in terms of problem solving is that it takes the system to a stable state...then waits for human guidance...
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 04:30 PM by TripleSeven »

Online Coastal Ron

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It is a fact that autonomous control systems are getting better, and transportation manufacturers are adding more of them over time, not less, so the trend is clear.

To me the choice that Boeing has made reflects a lack of trust that they understand all of the possible failure modes, and there is no way of knowing if they are right until they fly enough.

For SpaceX, for the Dragon series of spacecraft specifically, they apparently feel that they understand all the possible failure modes, and what happens when their automated systems work and don't work. And again, there is no way to know if they are right until they fly enough.

And I think it's too early to know whose approach is more inherently safe, especially since both spacecraft have different ways to fail and to respond to failure.

Anxious to see both in action in order to see what the workload is like...

I agree with that...its not lack of trust, its just prudent design AND it is enabling the inherent flexibility of people to "operate.  boeings theory on automation in terms of problem solving is that it takes the system to a stable state...then waits for human guidance...

The Boeing approach assumes the human pilot will always have more information than autonomous systems will when an off-nominal situation occurs, and that the human pilot will be able to react quickly enough in response.

Having said that, it still could be the case that the autonomous systems Boeing has created will always be able to handle the off-nominal situations that could come up, and that humans will never need to provide manual input. In other words, the autonomous vehicle team could end up surprising the human interactions team, and Boeing will later decide to simplify the manual controls available to human pilots.

And having autonomous systems that are better than human pilots should be the goal, since that will increase safety and likely lead to reductions in overall cost to access space.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline TripleSeven

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It is a fact that autonomous control systems are getting better, and transportation manufacturers are adding more of them over time, not less, so the trend is clear.

To me the choice that Boeing has made reflects a lack of trust that they understand all of the possible failure modes, and there is no way of knowing if they are right until they fly enough.

For SpaceX, for the Dragon series of spacecraft specifically, they apparently feel that they understand all the possible failure modes, and what happens when their automated systems work and don't work. And again, there is no way to know if they are right until they fly enough.

And I think it's too early to know whose approach is more inherently safe, especially since both spacecraft have different ways to fail and to respond to failure.

Anxious to see both in action in order to see what the workload is like...

I agree with that...its not lack of trust, its just prudent design AND it is enabling the inherent flexibility of people to "operate.  boeings theory on automation in terms of problem solving is that it takes the system to a stable state...then waits for human guidance...

The Boeing approach assumes the human pilot will always have more information than autonomous systems will when an off-nominal situation occurs, and that the human pilot will be able to react quickly enough in response.

Having said that, it still could be the case that the autonomous systems Boeing has created will always be able to handle the off-nominal situations that could come up, and that humans will never need to provide manual input. In other words, the autonomous vehicle team could end up surprising the human interactions team, and Boeing will later decide to simplify the manual controls available to human pilots.

And having autonomous systems that are better than human pilots should be the goal, since that will increase safety and likely lead to reductions in overall cost to access space.

as we say in Turkey "tabi tabi" sort of.  The Boeing theory is that the human pilot will always be able to diagnose the "dynamic situation" better than the automation.  So for instance, in airplanes Airbus planes will excecute a rejected take off without any input from the pilot, ie the pilot cannot even stop it....boeing requires the pilot to at least initiate the rejected take off...then depending on how "new" the design is...it will "help" in the configuration of the plane. 

I would be uncomfortable saying that the human pilot would have "more information" because in Boeing world, the automation feeds information to the "human" (the pilot) in various ways...this is also how Boeing deals with drones BTW there is a human "somewhere".

the RTO is illustrative of quick configurations...the entire decision, and airplane config changes must be done in 3.5 seconds to meet certification requirements...ie lift or stop on a runway at a certain mass

doing that...is all up to the pilot :)

PS  Airbus got "nicked" on that witht heir 350...they were demonstrating it to their US launch customer...Delta and well it aborted on the runway near V1...a sensor failed :)

« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 07:45 PM by TripleSeven »

Offline jbenton

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I would be uncomfortable saying that the human pilot would have "more information" because in Boeing world, the automation feeds information to the "human" (the pilot) in various ways...this is also how Boeing deals with drones BTW there is a human "somewhere".


I believe the technical term is "man in the loop" at least in the defense sector.

Offline clongton

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Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.

Exactly I think they probably considered touch screens but felt they would not be good to use while in a spacesuit as well as issues such as something accidentally getting triggered by something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen.

It's not that one approach is better than the other, it's all about what your experience base is. In the case of Boeing, they have tons of experience doing things with hardware that provides an active pilot with the control he needs. On the other hand the experience base of the entire generation that is building their spacecraft is software based automation, controlled by touchscreens (think ipad and laptops), providing a passive pilot with the information he needs. People build what they know how to build.

As to the comment about something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen, that's impossible. Touchscreens require a tactile touch, like a finger or other body part. For example think trying to type a text message on your ipad and touching the electronic keypad with a pencil point. Nothing happens - until you toss the pencil and use your finger. Not just anything will do. It must be a tactile touch, whether a finger or a tactile surface on a gloved fingertip.

So both are equally proficient at doing what they are designed to do. The only important thing here is that NASA has certified both approaches so both spacecraft are good to go. I have my preference, but in the end it is irrelevant, so I won't mention it.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 10:20 PM by clongton »
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Offline envy887

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Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.

Exactly I think they probably considered touch screens but felt they would not be good to use while in a spacesuit as well as issues such as something accidentally getting triggered by something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen.

It's not that one approach is better than the other, it's all about what your experience base is. In the case of Boeing, they have tons of experience doing things with hardware that provides an active pilot with the control he needs. On the other hand the experience base of the entire generation that is building their spacecraft is software based automation, controlled by touchscreens (think ipad and laptops), providing a passive pilot with the information he needs. People build what they know how to build.

As to the comment about something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen, that's impossible. Touchscreens require a tactile touch, like a finger or other body part. For example think trying to type a text message on your ipad and touching the electronic keypad with a pencil point. Nothing happens - until you toss the pencil and use your finger. Not just anything will do. It must be a tactile touch, whether a finger or a tactile surface on a gloved fingertip.

So both are equally proficient at doing what they are designed to do. The only important thing here is that NASA has certified both approaches so both spacecraft are good to go. I have my preference, but in the end it is irrelevant, so I won't mention it.

That's not exactly how a touchscreen works. If those are cap touch (like an iPad) any object that simulates a the change in capacitance like a finger touch can cause the screen to sense a "touch". This is why you can use a stylus on an iPad, or a special glove.

However, there are some software workarounds to limit false touch readings, and there just aren't that many objects that can simulate a finger touch, especially if the contents of the capsule are screened to minimize them.

Also, objects floating around can also depress a mechanical button (and with that there is much less sensitivity to the size or material properties of the object), so I don't see much of an advantage to either system in this regard.

Online leovinus

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I had a premonition of what a Millennial expect when they are tourist flying these things. Trevor Noah had a segment on a possible Apple car, which was illustrated by a very iPhone-ish body with wheels and him joking on how telling "Siri, take us to Houston" (or equivalent) would not end well.

If it works out it looks like commercial users would expect a transition to a voice communication overlay as long as the craft can contact ground servers for a massive but cheap AI service.

It is a fact that autonomous control systems are getting better, and transportation manufacturers are adding more of them over time, not less, so the trend is clear.

To me the choice that Boeing has made reflects a lack of trust that they understand all of the possible failure modes, and there is no way of knowing if they are right until they fly enough.

For SpaceX, for the Dragon series of spacecraft specifically, they apparently feel that they understand all the possible failure modes, and what happens when their automated systems work and don't work. And again, there is no way to know if they are right until they fly enough.

And I think it's too early to know whose approach is more inherently safe, especially since both spacecraft have different ways to fail and to respond to failure.

Anxious to see both in action in order to see what the workload is like...

I agree with that...its not lack of trust, its just prudent design AND it is enabling the inherent flexibility of people to "operate.  boeings theory on automation in terms of problem solving is that it takes the system to a stable state...then waits for human guidance...

From my point of view, this discussion is reminiscent of the 2007 discussions about touchscreen-oriented iPhone vs button-oriented Blackberry, Palm, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia phones. The latter group stuck with a button-oriented phone until Apple success proved a touchscreen-oriented approach was just as effective, and a big sales hit. You could loosely argue that the latter group stayed with the proven design, until a breakthrough design proved it was just as good if not better.

The key term in the discussion is "design" and Apple's objective were different from the competing group.

Based on such a loose historical analogue, I feel we are in a similar situation now. While SpaceX designed a more revolutionary control screen for commercial crew, it seems Boeing went the more traditional way. Without a lot of usage evidence, we might agree that the solutions are different but none is better than the other until we have more evidence. I also have the impression that SpaceX design team is a lot like Apple's user-oriented design team, while Boeing's team seems a more traditional airplane mindset.

On the bright side, as others have pointed out, having two working user interface (UI) approaches to compare to do the same task is a UI designers dream. Am looking forward to summary report from NASA, Boeing, SpaceX on how to improve the UI even more in future spaceships.

Exciting times!

EDIT: spelling
« Last Edit: 08/22/2018 01:17 AM by leovinus »

Offline ulm_atms

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I am just happy that we are talking about private business produced space capsules in the here and now and that NASA is actually letting the two companies do/try new things.

Being able to say the above as truth and not sci-fi is awesome by itself!  :D

The bold part makes is even more exciting! ;D

As far as which one is better/safer?  I will let the ACTUAL astronauts that have been working side by side with them answer that.  They are all saying "let's go!"....so I think the answer is....BOTH! ;)

EDIT: Spelling
« Last Edit: 08/21/2018 11:41 PM by ulm_atms »

Offline su27k

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Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.

Exactly I think they probably considered touch screens but felt they would not be good to use while in a spacesuit as well as issues such as something accidentally getting triggered by something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen.

It's not that one approach is better than the other, it's all about what your experience base is. In the case of Boeing, they have tons of experience doing things with hardware that provides an active pilot with the control he needs. On the other hand the experience base of the entire generation that is building their spacecraft is software based automation, controlled by touchscreens (think ipad and laptops), providing a passive pilot with the information he needs. People build what they know how to build.

Musk's other company also has "tons of experience doing things with hardware that provides an active pilot with the control he needs", and their UI design is exactly like what is in Dragon 2. So I don't think this is an active vs passive/pilot vs automation thing, it's just a totally different UI design philosophy, just like Blackberry vs iPhone.

Offline raketa

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/08/boeing-starliner-crew-spacecraft/

By Chris Gebhardt
Boeing produces Souyz version of spacecraft, 20 years behind today's technology.No flexibility to redesign, that flat screen gives you.

Offline raketa

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for all I know Musk has come onto the new thing with his touch screens...he is unique no airplane, nuclear control systems, oil field control (ie rigs off shore) or nuclear submarine...is using them...

Doesn't the F-35 use touch screens?
not build by Boeing

Offline woods170

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/08/boeing-starliner-crew-spacecraft/

By Chris Gebhardt
Boeing produces Souyz version of spacecraft, 20 years behind today's technology.No flexibility to redesign, that flat screen gives you.
You are naturally entitled to your own opinion but IMO your opinion is a bit harsh on Boeing.

You have to understand that CCP is not about building a spacecraft with the latest technology but building a safe & reliable spacecraft.

Boeing chose one way of doing things, SpaceX chose another. We will see how both fare over time.

Generally speaking, folks here declaring that one CCP solution is better than the other are IMO in no position to declare so.
Because they are not the folks actually working with those CCP solutions (looking at you TripleSeven).
« Last Edit: 08/22/2018 06:31 AM by woods170 »

Offline speedevil

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Boeing chose one way of doing things, SpaceX chose another. We will see how both fare over time.

Generally speaking, folks here declaring that one CCP solution is better than the other are IMO in no position to declare so.
Because they are not the folks actually working with those CCP solutions (looking at you TripleSeven).
We almost certainly will not (in CCP) , because any of the emergencies that arise will be at a low enough frequency that any benefit from one strategy or the other will likely be impossible to draw out.

Both strategies are 'good enough', given the barely more than a handful of flights for each vendor, and the small windows in which time-sensitive emergencies can arise multiplied by the small fraction in which the crew can do anything productive.

Offline cbarnes199

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So far SpaceX and Orbital (Northup Gruman) have launched to the ISS more that two dozen times with automated systems handling the 'piloting' on the trips.  If there had been people on board those flights rather than cargo it would not have required any of them to take any active part.

My opinion is having a human in the loop will be of little value for these well known flight plans even during unexpected events because ground based people can control things in near real time if needed and the automated systems can likely handled many of these fault cases.

Having a human in the loop and what types of controls they have will matter more in the Starliner and BFS trips where you are doing unique missions that the people programming the automated systems do not have history to use as a guide to program for unanticipated events.

Progress on systems getting better is what we all should want. I am always skeptical when people tell me something is best because we have always done it that way and it worked.  That statement alone is a red flag that fear of change is standing in the way of progress.  That does not mean they are always wrong about the current system being the best at the moment, but it does mean you are not making progress and that system is for sure not better.

Hopefully we are learning what we can from these lower risk flights to get the best lessons for the future higher risk missions.

Offline Rocket Science

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Boeing have lot experience to draw one from all aircraft they've designed.

Exactly I think they probably considered touch screens but felt they would not be good to use while in a spacesuit as well as issues such as something accidentally getting triggered by something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen.

It's not that one approach is better than the other, it's all about what your experience base is. In the case of Boeing, they have tons of experience doing things with hardware that provides an active pilot with the control he needs. On the other hand the experience base of the entire generation that is building their spacecraft is software based automation, controlled by touchscreens (think ipad and laptops), providing a passive pilot with the information he needs. People build what they know how to build.

As to the comment about something floating in the cabin coming into contact with the screen, that's impossible. Touchscreens require a tactile touch, like a finger or other body part. For example think trying to type a text message on your ipad and touching the electronic keypad with a pencil point. Nothing happens - until you toss the pencil and use your finger. Not just anything will do. It must be a tactile touch, whether a finger or a tactile surface on a gloved fingertip.

So both are equally proficient at doing what they are designed to do. The only important thing here is that NASA has certified both approaches so both spacecraft are good to go. I have my preference, but in the end it is irrelevant, so I won't mention it.

That's not exactly how a touchscreen works. If those are cap touch (like an iPad) any object that simulates a the change in capacitance like a finger touch can cause the screen to sense a "touch". This is why you can use a stylus on an iPad, or a special glove.

However, there are some software workarounds to limit false touch readings, and there just aren't that many objects that can simulate a finger touch, especially if the contents of the capsule are screened to minimize them.

Also, objects floating around can also depress a mechanical button (and with that there is much less sensitivity to the size or material properties of the object), so I don't see much of an advantage to either system in this regard.
That's the reason that the panel utilizes "guarded switches" to protect them. The only time that a switch failed from impact (comes to mind) was during the Apollo 11 post surface EVA when the ascent engine arm breaker was more than likely snapped off by one of them while suited up with their PLSS backpacks in the strict confines of the LEM. A panel "work-around" was initiated and making use of their "space pen" tip (or felt-tip depending on who you ask) allowed them to trigger the breaker and light off the engine and the rest is history... First Lunar surface hack... ;D 8)
« Last Edit: 08/22/2018 03:27 PM by Rocket Science »
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Online ncb1397

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So far SpaceX and Orbital (Northup Gruman) have launched to the ISS more that two dozen times with automated systems handling the 'piloting' on the trips.  If there had been people on board those flights rather than cargo it would not have required any of them to take any active part.

Someone would have had to hit the deploy parachutes button to attempt to survive on CRS-7 because the programmers didn't think of it? And all of them have had humans in the loop. Just on the ISS and on the ground remotely. Remotely piloting/operating on a manned spacecraft is silly IMO. Even self driving cars wouldn't control themselves. They would be told where to go and when presumably.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2018 03:51 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline Almurray1958

In re. dedicated switches VS nested menus, no one argues there is a good argument to be made for having "important" functions (whatever they are defined to be) immediately available.   Nested menus have to be read, scrolled through and clicked while a dedicated button can simply be pressed.   

In my car or example, I can activate the emergency flashers with 1 action while to report construction in an app such as WAZE, I need to press report a thing, find the report hazard icon and press it, find the on road icon and press it, then find the construction icon and press it and finally find and press the submit report button.  5 button presses with time to search, identify and press. 
An example of important (let people know there is an imediate hazard) VS not as important (let folk behind me know there is police activity).

SpaceX Dragon has what is deemed to be fewer "important" manual controls than does Boeing Starliner.
While Boeing Starliner assumes the need for more cases of manual intervention.

A good UI layout with fewer clicks may obviate the need for more switches but it had better be a really well thought out, designed and implemented UI/UX. 

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Offline erioladastra

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So far SpaceX and Orbital (Northup Gruman) have launched to the ISS more that two dozen times with automated systems handling the 'piloting' on the trips.  If there had been people on board those flights rather than cargo it would not have required any of them to take any active part.

Someone would have had to hit the deploy parachutes button to attempt to survive on CRS-7 because the programmers didn't think of it? And all of them have had humans in the loop. Just on the ISS and on the ground remotely. Remotely piloting/operating on a manned spacecraft is silly IMO. Even self driving cars wouldn't control themselves. They would be told where to go and when presumably.

This over simplifies a number of key issues.  First, it is MUCH easier to pilot a vehicle to get close and hover to ISS so it be grabbed by a robotic arm than it is to precisionally flying it to a docking.  Second, in an unmanned cargo vehicle your contingency response can often be "just get away as fast as you can".  When you have humans, and coming right to contact, you need more control.  Yes autonomous vehicles have done pretty well going to/from ISS but there have been issues where automated or ground/crew involvement has been critical.  Since spacecraft systems and operations are still evolving for both vehicles you will likely have a higher reliance on manual work arounds early on in the projects (just the reality of dealing with smart, complex software that has to work right on tight budget/schedule).

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Berthing requires exactly the same position and velocity accuracy as docking, the only difference is that its centered about 15 meters under the station instead of in contact with the docking port. And abort safety is still a concern because you have humans on the ISS itself

Offline John Santos

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Berthing requires exactly the same position and velocity accuracy as docking, the only difference is that its centered about 15 meters under the station instead of in contact with the docking port. And abort safety is still a concern because you have humans on the ISS itself

I doubt this very much.  Docking requires approaching  the target in the same way as berthing, but once it reaches berthing position, a berthing spacecraft just has to stop (kill the relative velocity and rotation.)  Then it TURNS OFF the active attitude and position keeping systems (thrusters, and, if applicable, CMGs) and waits for the arm to grapple it and move it into the final berthing position and continue to wait passively while the bolts attach it.  During this final approach and berthing phase, the berthing spacecraft is totally passive.  In addition, its location only has to be within a few 10s of centimeters for the arm to grapple it and maneuver  it to the berthing port.

From approximately the same distance, a docking space craft has to slowly approach the docking port while precisely maintaining its attitude, rotation, velocity and relative position until it actually contacts the docking port under its own active control.  During this process, it has to maintain position to an order of magnitude greater precision (centimeters vs 10s of centimeters.)  This has to be a much much harder problem to solve.

Offline bad_astra

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It's easier to inaccurately press or doubletap a touch screen option, or have floating debris do so. In this case where the crews will have proper training, discreet switches seems to have many advantages, except for price.
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Offline kevinof

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Oh come on. You don't think Nasa and SpaceX haven't thought of this already? Nasa is satisfied that both vehicles will be able to do the job asked of them and part of this is docking with the ISS and keeping the astros safe.

Whether it's a physical button or a touch screen, this has already been evaluated in Nasa to the n'th degree and both, it appears, are acceptable to Nasa.

It's easier to inaccurately press or doubletap a touch screen option, or have floating debris do so. In this case where the crews will have proper training, discreet switches seems to have many advantages, except for price.

Offline Ike17055

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https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/08/boeing-starliner-crew-spacecraft/

By Chris Gebhardt
Boeing produces Souyz version of spacecraft, 20 years behind today's technology.No flexibility to redesign, that flat screen gives you.

Except that it’s not 20 year old technology, rather it is flight proven technology, integrated with some newer technology.  This will also be the first crewed American vehicle that touches down on land without a massive runway, and with the flexibility and retrieval and reuse capability in a crew vehicle we have not had before, even with shuttle, so there’s a new capability, while the “other” vendor is dunking in the ocean, which is truly “old tech.” 


Offline woods170

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Boeing produces Souyz version of spacecraft, 20 years behind today's technology.No flexibility to redesign, that flat screen gives you.

Except that it’s not 20 year old technology, rather it is flight proven technology, integrated with some newer technology.  This will also be the first crewed American vehicle that touches down on land without a massive runway, and with the flexibility and retrieval and reuse capability in a crew vehicle we have not had before, even with shuttle, so there’s a new capability, while the “other” vendor is dunking in the ocean, which is truly “old tech.” 



I'm going to repeat myself:

Generally speaking, folks here declaring that one CCP solution is better than the other are IMO in no position to declare so.
Because they are not the folks actually working with those CCP solutions.

So please, stop the pointless discussion. It's just a waste of Chris' bandwidth.

Online Lars-J

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Berthing requires exactly the same position and velocity accuracy as docking, the only difference is that its centered about 15 meters under the station instead of in contact with the docking port. And abort safety is still a concern because you have humans on the ISS itself

I doubt this very much.

You can doubt it all you want, but that doesn't change it from being true. Several more knowledgeable people on this forum have stated this many times.

The difference in complexity is very small.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2018 05:53 PM by Lars-J »

Offline erioladastra

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Berthing requires exactly the same position and velocity accuracy as docking, the only difference is that its centered about 15 meters under the station instead of in contact with the docking port. And abort safety is still a concern because you have humans on the ISS itself

I doubt this very much.

You can doubt it all you want, but that doesn't change it from being true. Several more knowledgeable people on this forum have stated this many times.

The difference in complexity is very small.

As someone who deals with both the berthing and docking vehicles and their contingency modes on the ISS I can assure you that your statement is incorrect.  It is more than position and velocity accuracy - but even then they are not the same scale.   As noted above, berthing requires maintaining position within a box whereas docking requires impacting - the volume of which is smaller than for berthing and with a very specific velocity range (too little and you don't capture, too much and you damage, off axis and you are bouncing off).   You also have more time and options to correct orientation between vehicles than you do for docking.  Flying in formation is a challenge but for an uncrewed berthing most significant failures the response is generally going to be "go away".  For a crewed docking, I want to preserve crew health and try to get docked.  That alone greatly complicates software, procedures and training.  In a docking you have bounce off cases you don't (shouldn't unless a really, really bad day) have for berthing.  A docking mechanism is also significantly more complicated than the bolt/motor berthing system. 

Offline bad_astra

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Oh come on. You don't think Nasa and SpaceX haven't thought of this already? Nasa is satisfied that both vehicles will be able to do the job asked of them and part of this is docking with the ISS and keeping the astros safe.

Whether it's a physical button or a touch screen, this has already been evaluated in Nasa to the n'th degree and both, it appears, are acceptable to Nasa.

It's easier to inaccurately press or doubletap a touch screen option, or have floating debris do so. In this case where the crews will have proper training, discreet switches seems to have many advantages, except for price.
You are stating the obvious for reasons that do not make sense to me. Of course NASA feels both methods are adequate. And there are advantages to both. This does not curtail one from pointing out some of the specific advantages to discreet interfaces.

Acceptable doesn't mean best. I do think the CST100's controls are a better design, just from looking at them, but I really know next to nothing about them apart from the fact they appear like what I'd expect from the world's most successful airliner manufacturer. In fairness I work for one of the subcontracting companies involved with Starliner, so perhaps there is a bit of bias.

But I like both ships. who wouldn't? Whenever I am feeling down I remind myself there's MULTIPLE spacecraft designs about to launch each a little different from the next, and I think it's fantastic.

« Last Edit: 08/27/2018 06:48 PM by bad_astra »
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