Range Flight Safety Program Updates NPR and Creates New Standard
The NASA Range Flight Safety Program updated NPR 8715.5, Range Flight Safety Program and released the newly created NASA-STD-8719.25, Range Flight Safety Requirements, which went into effect on Feb. 2 and Feb. 5, respectively. The creation of the standard and subsequent changes to the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) support an agency effort to ensure NPRs focus on policy and process, while standards contain technical requirements.
The biggest change in NPR 8515.5B was the removal of the technical requirements now found in the standard, however there were a few additional changes of note. A table was added that covers the applicability of the new standard as it relates to different types of range flight operations (NASA vehicle on a NASA range, a non-NASA vehicle on a NASA range, a NASA vehicle on a non-NASA range, a NASA vehicle on a non-government range, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-licensed vehicles on a non-NASA range, and NASA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS)). The table also provides the approvals required for the Range Safety Risk Management Process and applicable waivers or equivalent levels of safety. Previously, the majority of launches and flights were NASA-owned vehicles taking place on NASA property or an Air Force range, but in recent years there has been a major uptick in commercial launches, such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 launching at Kennedy Space Center or the Orbital ATK Antares launching at Wallops Flight Facility. While some of this information was available in the previous revision, the table makes the information easier to digest and more clearly defines the applicability of the requirements.
There was also a minor terminology change, from center Range Safety representative to center Range Flight Safety lead. The new title holds most of the same responsibilities as the representative role, but is better defined.
Finally, the last chapter of Revision B covers the NAS and FAA licenses and certificates of authorization. This chapter now provides requirements for NASA programs required to obtain FAA licensing for launch or entry, as well as requirements for NASA UAS flying in the NAS.
Although the standard itself is new, the majority of the requirements in NASA-STD-8719.25 remain unchanged from when they were a part of the NPR.
One of the main changes pertains to UAS activities. When NASA last updated the NPR, only a few centers were flying UAS; however, now, nearly all centers are flying or are looking to fly these systems. While the NPR had some very general requirements, the standard calls out more specific requirements as they apply to UAS. Rather than starting from scratch, the Range Flight Safety Program reviewed the existing requirements for other range flight operations and any time the requirement was applicable to UAS, a callout was added to the standard stating its applicability.
In addition to the UAS content, the standard also added tables in the appendix outlining the minimum training requirements for personnel performing Range Flight Safety-related functions during NASA range flight operations. The previous revision of the NPR had very high level requirements that only applied to range safety officers. The new standard expands beyond that role to also cover flight safety analysts, flight safety system engineers and the center Range Flight Safety lead.
Programs and projects should review NPR 8715.5B to determine if their operations are Range Flight Safety related and, if so, become familiar with the applicable requirements in NASA-STD-8719.25. Questions can be directed to NASA Range Safety Program Executive Sandra Hudson or NASA Range Flight Safety Program Manager Chuck Loftin.