Update on NASA’s commercial crew human rating reqs

I happened to come across this update concerning NASA’s work in developing human rating rules for the commercial crew launch systems: Commercial Crew Update: Human Rating Requirements Status, Dec. 2010.

Here is a draft document laying out the requirements: Commercial Crew Transportation System Certification Requirements for NASA Low Earth Orbit Missions – ESMD-CCTSCR-12.10 – NASA – Dec.9.10 (pdf).

The Strategy for Documentation sounds like they have been reading Wayne Hale’s blog (e.g. see here and here). In fact, I see that Hale has a recent post about one of the requirements dealing with aborts.

Here is NASA’s doc strategy:

“NASA’s overarching strategy for the development of these documents is to ensure that the requirements are not overly burdensome and allow our Commercial Partners the maximum flexibility to develop safe and cost effective human space transportation systems. The 1100-series of documents are in draft form now and, as mentioned in the previous section, we are planning on releasing the documents via an RFI in January and incorporating the feedback we receive from industry before we initially baseline those documents in the Spring 2011.

There are some communities that feel more requirements are appropriate; others feel fewer requirements are better. NASA is attempting to balance these competing interests into the development of a set of documents that will enable our Commercial Partners to apply innovative solutions while leveraging NASA’s extensive experience with respect to safe human spaceflight. The current 1100-series incorporates input from NASA’s three Technical Authorities (Safety and Mission Assurance, Chief Engineer, and Health and Medical), the International Space Station Program, the Space Shuttle Program, the Launch Services Program, and the Commercial Crew Planning Office. We have spent upwards of thousands of labor hours working through the requirements in order to strike the best balance.

It should be noted that a simplistic “page count” of the 1100-series of documents does not reflect the quality of the requirements or the degree of difficulty in meeting them. The majority of the pages in CCT-REQ-1130 International Space Station (ISS) Crew Transportation Certification and Services Requirements Document are made of up “rationale” and verifications that NASA added to the actual requirements in order for industry to see the “intent” of our requirements and give them the flexibility to meet the requirements in innovative ways. This is a direct result of industry feedback we received from the first RFI we put out last May.

In comparison to the documents used for early NASA human spaceflight programs, such as Gemini, it may appear that the set of requirements has dramatically expanded. In some ways, it has. However, at the time the Gemini requirements were developed, the United States had accomplished only about a half dozen human spaceflights. We now have 50 years and over 150 human missions of experience to leverage in order to enhance the safety and success of any future human space transportation program.

Another point of comparison is NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP). The LSP model was one of the inputs used by the Commercial Crew Planning Office in establishing its strategy for insight/oversight and safety. While the LSP model is excellent for its purposes, it has some clear distinctions from commercial crew that make wholesale adoption of the LSP approach to commercial crew unworkable. The primary difference is the LSP is not a development program, it is a services program. All the launch vehicles used by LSP were developed according to some standards and requirements, mostly Air Force and DOD requirements and standards.

However, the Air Force and DOD do not have “human” spaceflight requirements and standards. Only NASA has those and we have to make those requirements and standards available to the Commercial Providers to guide their design and development efforts. We are scrubbing those requirements to ensure they are truly necessary and we are allowing industry to substitute their standards in many instances. Successful spaceflight systems today use a pedigree of requirements and standards developed and adapted throughout spaceflight history.”

URL: http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=25831

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