115th Range Safety Group Technical Interchange Meeting Held in White Sands
Representatives from government agencies attended the 115th Range Safety Group (RSG) Technical Interchange Meeting last November at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to discuss current issues, ongoing tasks and future work of the Main, Risk and Flight Termination System (FTS) Committees.
Presenters in the Main Committee provided updates on the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, risks to critical infrastructure, use of the Autonomous Flight Safety System, the FT-2 launch mishap at Kodiak Island and the Antares (ORB-3) mishap at Wallops Flight Facility (WFF).
The group was tasked with developing a set of standards for identifying and protecting critical infrastructure near national ranges and noting the risks associated with the infrastructure. Members also made plans to evaluate training programs from WFF and determine if they can build on those programs with materials from other ranges. Finally, a new committee, which includes NASA representatives, was initiated to update the Range Commanders Council (RCC) 323-99 Range Safety Criteria for Unmanned Vehicles as well as the supplement.
Flight Termination System (FTS) Committee
The FTS Committee included members from various ranges and outside vendors seeking insight into design and regulations of FTS components. The committee focused on emerging technologies such as the Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) and the Enhanced Flight Termination System with briefings from both Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) and the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing (SW) from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The 30th SW provided a detailed presentation regarding the logic of the software, the tools they have created for the AFTS and how the software will mimic the “man in the loop” system currently in use for flight termination decisions. In addition, AFRC provided information and data regarding their Enhanced Flight Termination Receiver.
The Risk Committee discussed a variety of topics including
- Proposed ship protection standards and guidelines
- Potential standards and guidelines on post-failure data collection
- Aircraft protection standards and guidelines (including potential use of air-traffic data)
- Potential updates to vulnerability models for aircraft
- Potential updates related to collision avoidance for launch and reentry
- Status and plans for each subtask
- Plan to update RCC 321, Common Risk Criteria Standards for National Test Ranges
Meeting attendees included Range Safety representatives from NASA Headquarters, Kennedy Space Center, Armstrong Flight Research Center and Wallops Flight Facility, along with members from the Air Force Space Command (Headquarters and the 30 and 45 Space Wings), the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space, and a variety of Army, Navy and Air Force proving grounds and test ranges.
The RCC was founded in 1951 to provide a way for Department of Defense test ranges to communicate and discuss common problems pertaining to all the test ranges. The RSG, a part of RCC, continues to provide a forum for ranges to standardize, develop and improve on a variety of subjects and processes related to range safety. NASA participates in this forum on a regular basis and became an official voting member of the RCC in 2008.
For more background and information, visit the RCC website.