NASA’s Range Flight Safety program recently released updates to two of its existing training courses: “Range Flight Safety Orientation - Web-Based” (SMA-AS-WBT-410) and “Flight Safety Systems” (SMA-AS-WBT-335). Both courses, found in SATERN, were updated to reflect recent policy changes within the program and also to shift away from videos of instructor-led courses that were hard to update as minor changes occurred within the discipline.
“We updated the courses because they were several years old and didn’t really reflect the current needs of the agency or the requirements,” explained Brenda Wall, a senior Range Flight Safety engineer with APT Research at Kennedy Space Center.
The program updated NPR 8715.5, Range Flight Safety Program and released the newly created NASA-STD-8719.25, Range Flight Safety Requirements in February of this year. The creation of the standard and subsequent changes to the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) supported an agency effort to ensure NPRs focus on policy and process, while standards contain technical requirements; this change greatly affected the “Range Flight Safety Orientation” and “Flight Safety Systems” courses as both referenced the NPR and the program’s guiding requirements. (For more information on both policies, read “Range Flight Safety Program Updates NPR and Creates New Standard.”)
“It [the NPR] was parted like the Red Sea, so all the technical requirements in the NPR went into the standard, and the standard became a standalone document,” said Wall.
In addition to NASA’s changes to its own policies, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement revisions for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and advancements in commercial space and technology called for these courses to be updated.
Although the new courses aren’t live recordings of a classroom setting, they are designed to be engaging, with a large number of photos and videos to convey key concepts and keep the topics interesting. The new format ensures that the program can update sections of each course as needs change.
Range Flight Safety Orientation
“Range Flight Safety Orientation” is required (per NASA-STD-8719.25) for employees working in the Range Flight Safety arena at NASA, but others may find it interesting as well.
“It’s a fun, informative Range Flight Safety 101, so really anybody at the centers can come and get a real foundation in Range Flight Safety and what it means to them,” said Wall. “There’s spectacular video of several failures. It really drives home what it [Range Flight Safety] is and why we have to be concerned with it.”
The 8-hour course is designed to give program, project and center personnel an understanding of the Range Flight Safety mission, associated policies, processes, requirements, and NASA roles and responsibilities. It defines and discusses the major elements of Range Flight Safety (policy and requirements, flight safety analysis, Flight Termination Systems (FTS) and range operations) and briefly addresses associated range safety topics such as flight safety, frequency management and flight operations for a variety of vehicle types. It includes information on the revised NPR, new standard, revised FAA policy for sUAS, and advances in commercial space.
While concentrating on NASA Range Flight Safety, the course introduces the audience to the other two primary range safety organizations as well: Air Force Range Safety and FAA Range Safety. It provides insights to make the working relationship with a range as beneficial as possible for the range user via a proactive interface with Range Flight Safety during program or project startup, design and operations to minimize potential delays and costs.
Flight Safety Systems
The 16-hour “Flight Safety Systems” course is a more focused version of the orientation course that is more geared toward personnel who work with FTS or Contingency Management Systems. It’s also good for program and project managers or team members who want an understanding of what a Flight Safety System (FSS) is, if it’s required for their program or project and, if so, how to interface with the appropriate range authority. Contrary to popular opinion, an FSS is not only a destruct mechanism; telemetry and tracking are also part of the FSS, and the FSS provides a way to control errant vehicle flight and mitigate hazards which may or may not be destructive depending on the vehicle and mission profile.
The course describes required Range Flight Safety policies and requirements, roles and responsibilities, and plans and procedures for both FTS and Contingency Management Systems. This includes FTS design criteria and processes, component descriptions, performance requirements, and subsystem prelaunch testing requirements. The course also discusses FTS analysis, which includes Reliability and single point-of-failure requirements and provides an overview of component acceptance and qualification testing requirements. It expands to a review of a sounding rocket, Unmanned Aircraft Systems and balloon FSS, including universal termination packages. The FSS course concludes with a description of emerging technologies, specifically Enhanced Flight Termination Systems and Autonomous FSS.
Questions on either course can be directed to Chuck Loftin, Range Flight Safety Program manager, or Wall.