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Mon, Feb 06, 2012

United Launch Alliance Moves Closer To Certifying Atlas V For Human Spaceflight

Achieves Two Key Milestones For CCDev Program

United Launch Alliance (ULA) says it has completed two key milestones leading toward the certification of the Atlas V launch vehicle for human spaceflight. ULA has successfully completed the third and fourth milestones of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA). In December, ULA conducted a series of detailed reviews that reflected the culmination of efforts involving technical experts and representatives from NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

ULA Atlas V File Photo

A Tailored System Requirements Review (TSRR) was successfully conducted which summarized months of work with ULA and NASA. The team reviewed the detailed evidence that demonstrates how the existing, flight-proven Atlas V meets the intent of NASA's Human Spaceflight Certification requirements. The team paid particular emphasis to requirements traceability, verification and certification planning. Because Atlas V is already certified to fly the nation's most complex exploration and national security missions, ULA was able to provide a wealth of detailed system and sub-system analysis, qualification, certification, and flight data resulting from 28 successful missions.

"The TSRR was the result of an extensive effort with NASA and our commercial spacecraft partners during which we cooperatively reviewed the details of Atlas V design, analyses and operations," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of business development and advanced programs. "This was the first time that we were able to share detailed Atlas V design and flight data with NASA Human Spaceflight experts."

A Probabilistic Safety Analysis (PSA) Review also was conducted to evaluate safety-critical launch vehicle systems. This included the details of existing Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) data, Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) results, explosion modeling analyses, system hazard analyses and fault coverage assessments. The PSA leveraged similar data developed in support of Atlas V launches of critical NASA missions including Pluto New Horizons, Juno and the Mars Science Laboratory.

As NASA moves forward with the Commercial Crew development Program, ULA plans to offer human-certified Atlas launch services to meet the needs for the crew transportation system providers. "The Commercial Crew Development Program is on a path to create a robust commercial crew transportation capability to low-Earth orbit (LEO). ULA looks forward to continued work with our spacecraft customers and NASA to develop an early U.S. crew space transportation capability providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective access to LEO and the International Space Station," Sowers said.

FMI: www.ulalaunch.com

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