New UAS Course Teaches Range Flight Safety Aspects of Use

New UAS Course Teaches Range Flight Safety Aspects of Use

3-minute read

NASA’s Range Flight Safety program recently released “UAS Range Flight Safety” (SMA-AS-WBT-300) to address the Range Flight Safety aspects of flying Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) at NASA.

“The need for the course was prompted by the prominence of UAS use across the agency,” explained Brenda Wall, range safety engineer with APT at Kennedy Space Center. “Almost every NASA center is flying UAS currently, at least small UAS. Everyone has been leveraging the bleeding edge of the available technology and it’s expanding by leaps and bounds. That’s the challenge, to keep the policies and training in step with the advance in technology.”

UAS use is primarily thought of as an aviation activity, but there are Range Flight Safety aspects that must be taken into consideration to ensure safe flight operations.

“Because UAS are classified as aircraft under the NPRs [NASA Procedural Requirements] and under the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], everybody thinks of aircraft operations and Aviation Safety, but don’t think to pursue it further,” said Wall “Especially if they are a project or program that doesn’t have any dealings with Range Flight Safety, it can be a sort of hidden aspect.”

Recent revisions to Aviation Safety and Range Flight Safety policies point to each other to help raise the awareness of the intermingled nature of flying UAS, and this new course will help further detail the Range Flight Safety side outlined in NPR 8715.5, Range Flight Safety Program and NASA-STD-8719.25, Range Flight Safety Requirements. “Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Range Flight Safety” complements the existing NASA Safety Center course “Introduction to Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)” (SMA-HQ-WBT-213), which focuses on the Aviation Safety aspects of flying these systems.

The course provides a fundamental understanding of the roles, responsibilities and requirements essential to performing NASA UAS operations, as they relate to Range Flight Safety. It defines and discusses the major elements of Range Flight Safety (policy and requirements, flight safety analysis, flight termination systems, and range flight operations) for NASA UAS and focuses on requirements and real-time support including preflight, flight, recovery/landing and post-flight operations. The course also addresses the paths available to NASA to authorize UAS flights in special use airspace and the National Airspace System, including FAA 14 CFR Part 107, UAS Operations.UAS Course Chart

“The course talks very strongly to the ways in which NASA can fly UAS — the different avenues it’s legally permitted to fly,” said Wall. “That’s the big takeaway. There are four different ways you can fly and they each have their own requirements and prohibitions. That’s the fundamental question people ask: ‘I have a UAS and I want to do something with it under the auspices of NASA. How do I do it?’ This course will address the ways you can fly and stress the Range Flight Safety aspect.”

“Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Range Flight Safety,” available in SATERN, is intended for anyone needing initial training to perform NASA UAS range flight operations, personnel in the management chain responsible for oversight of NASA UAS operations, and personnel directly supporting or interacting with NASA UAS range flight operations. To take this new course, participants should first complete “Range Flight Safety Orientation” (SMA-AS-WBT-410) or an equivalent. 

Questions about the course can be directed to Wall or Range Flight Safety Program Manager Chuck Loftin.


Chuck Loftin

Range Flight Safety Program Manager

Learn more about Range Flight Safety Program Manager Chuck Loftin.

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Sandra Hudson

Range Flight Safety Program Executive

Learn more about Range Flight Safety Program Executive Sandra Hudson.

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Points of Contact

For details on contacting a Range Flight Safety Point of Contact (PoC), click below.

Find Your PoC

Objectives Hierarchy

The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) has introduced a new objectives-based approach to better support NASA’s increasingly complex missions in a changing design environment. By focusing on objectives, OSMA hopes that the new standards will be more flexible, agile and cost-effective, and will allow more ingenuity to achieve objectives. It will serve as a guide to help programs and projects plan how they will meet their objectives, instead of dictating what they must do to via prescriptive requirements. Read the article, "OSMA Introduces New Objectives-Based Strategies," to learn more about objective hierarchies.

View Hierarchy



SATERN Courses

Course Title Course Number Buttons
Flight Safety Systems SMA-AS-WBT-335 SMA-AS-WBT-335 Details
Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems With a Focus on Range Flight Safety SMA-NSC-WEBEV-044 SMA-NSC-WEBEV-044 Details
Range Flight Safety Analysis Course SMA-AS-WBT-435 SMA-AS-WBT-435 Details
Range Flight Safety Orientation SMA-AS-WBT-410 SMA-AS-WBT-410 Details
UAS Range Flight Safety SMA-AS-WBT-300
SMA-AS-WBT-300 Details

Instructor-Led Courses

Course Title Course Number Buttons
Range Flight Safety Operations GSFC-RFSO GSFC-RFSO Details

Policy and Guidance


NPR 8715.5 Range Flight Safety Program

This policy defines the agency Range Flight Safety Program and provides for implementation of NPD 8700.1, NASA Policy for Safety and Mission Success regarding the protection of the public, workforce and property during range operations associated with flight.

See NPR 8715.5
NASA-STD-8719.25 Range Flight Safety Requirements

This standard provides the technical requirements for NPR 8715.5, Range Flight Safety Program in regards to protection of the public, NASA workforce and property as it pertains to risk analysis, Flight Safety Systems and range flight operations.

See NASA-STD 8719.25 

Related Documents

NASA Range Flight Safety is an integral part of the wider range safety technical community including the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Defense and industry. Explore related documents from these organizations via the links provided. 

NASA Documents Air Force/DoD Documents FAA Documents

NASA Range and Launch Site Locations

NASA has four range and launch site locations:

  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Wallops Flight Center
  • Armstrong Flight Research Center
  • Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base
U.S. Spaceports DoD Ranges Foreign Launch Sites