Will NASA’s human rating $1 million solve the dispute?

by | Nov 23, 2009 | Seradata News | 2 comments

NASA has confirmed to Hyperbola that it has started to spend the $1 million of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds it has for human rating studies. With human rating being such a divisive topic at the moment – is Atlas or Delta OK, is commercial up to scratch – the synopsis makes interesting reading

NASA told Hyperbola: “[T]he procurement you identified is related to the $1 million of Recovery Act funds allocated for human rating requirements development. The procurement is for only part of the $1 million, not all of it.”

How much of the $1 million is being spent is not being disclosed but the synopsis showing that Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering is getting the human rating contract does says “The human system integration requirements developed under this task order shall be based on a review of existing Human Rating requirements”.

Go through to the extended portion of this blog post to see the full procurement synopsis textThe full synopsis text is:

“The purpose of this task order is to develop a set of human system integration requirements for application to commercial spacecraft in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program (C3PO). The human system integration requirements developed under this task order shall be based on a review of existing Human Rating requirements, Spaceflight Human Systems Standards, Constellation Program requirements, Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office operational concepts and requirements, and the Johnson Space Center Space Life Sciences Directorate Human Interface Design Handbook.”

Despite all the allegations made about the safety of Ares I crew launch vehicle Hyperbola has heard from various quarters that the Constellation programme team was taking safety very seriously. Requirements over and above past programmes were being employed contributing to the ballistic cost growth

Looking at the synopsis text above you get the feeling that the debate – between Constellation and commercial supporters about what is a satisfactory level of rating – has got to the point where that key decision to resolve impassable management logjams has been taken: bring in the consultants

We hear lots about safety factors of one point this and one point that but in this blogger’s humble opinion there is no substitute for shakin, bakin and freezin components, subsystems and whole systems far beyond the heinous launch and in orbit environment conditions to know the likelihood of failure is sufficiently low

But that is expensive. Test and fly is another approach we hear about but my engineering lecturers always told us that decisions late in a programme cost a lot more than earlier ones – you may have heard that too 😉

There is no way round it making a machine safe enough for people is tough and costly and the outcome of this sub-$1 million study by Wyle could lead to many millions more in expense for whatever launch system administrator Bolden opts for

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