P

TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing

INTRODUCTION

The draft roadmap for Technology Area (TA) 13, Ground and Launch Systems Processing, consists of four level 2 technology subareas:1

•   13.1 Technologies to Optimize the Operational Life-Cycle

•   13.2 Environmental and Green Technologies

•   13.3 Technologies to Increase Reliability and Mission Availability

•   13.4 Technologies to Improve Mission Safety/Mission Risk

The goal of TA13 is to provide a flexible and sustainable U.S. capability for ground processing as well as launch, mission, and recovery operations to significantly increase safe access to space, including:

•   Transportation, assembly, integration, and processing of the launch vehicle, spacecraft, and payload hardware at the launch site including launch pad operations;

•   Launch processing infrastructure and its ability to support future operations;

•   Range, personnel, and facility safety capabilities;

•   Launch control and landing operations including weather and recovery for flight crews, flight hardware, and returned samples;

•   Mission integration and control center operations and infrastructure; and

•   Environmental impact mitigation for ground and launch operations.

The primary benefit derived from ground and launch processing advances is reduced cost, freeing funds for other investments. Currently, launch vehicle and payload processing and ground operations are significant contributors to mission life cycle costs.

Prior to prioritizing the level 3 technologies included in TA13, the panel considered whether to rename, delete, or move technologies in the technology area breakdown structure (TABS). No changes were recommended for

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1The draft space technology roadmaps are available at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/strategic_integration/technology_roadmap.html



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P TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing INTRODUCTION The draft roadmap for Technology Area (TA) 13, Ground and Launch Systems Processing, consists of four level 2 technology subareas:1 • 13.1 Technologies to Optimize the Operational Life-Cycle • 13.2 Environmental and Green Technologies • 13.3 Technologies to Increase Reliability and Mission Availability • 13.4 Technologies to Improve Mission Safety/Mission Risk The goal of TA13 is to provide a flexible and sustainable U.S. capability for ground processing as well as launch, mission, and recovery operations to significantly increase safe access to space, including: • Transportation, assembly, integration, and processing of the launch vehicle, spacecraft, and payload hardware at the launch site including launch pad operations; • Launch processing infrastructure and its ability to support future operations; • Range, personnel, and facility safety capabilities; • Launch control and landing operations including weather and recovery for flight crews, flight hardware, and returned samples; • Mission integration and control center operations and infrastructure; and • Environmental impact mitigation for ground and launch operations. The primary benefit derived from ground and launch processing advances is reduced cost, freeing funds for other investments. Currently, launch vehicle and payload processing and ground operations are significant con - tributors to mission life cycle costs. Prior to prioritizing the level 3 technologies included in TA13, the panel considered whether to rename, delete, or move technologies in the technology area breakdown structure (TABS). No changes were recommended for 1 The draft space technology roadmaps are available at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/strategic_integration/technology_roadmap.html. 313

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314 NASA SPACE TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPS AND PRIORITIES TA13. The TABS for TA13 is shown in Table P.1, and the complete, revised TABS for all 14 TAs is shown in Appendix B. TOP TECHNICAL CHALLENGES Advances in ground and launch systems processing implies overcoming several challenges, such as reducing the cost of maintaining and operating ground control and launch infrastructure, improving safety, and improving the timeliness, relevance, and accuracy of information provided to ground control and launch personnel (e.g., in part through improvements in inspection and anomaly detection capabilities). Although advanced technology can contribute to solving these challenges, they are most effectively addressed through improvements in management practices, engineering, and design. The study did not identify any technology challenges related to TA13 that rise to the level of the top technical challenges associated with the other roadmaps. QFD MATRIX AND NUMERICAL RESULTS FOR TA13 Figures P.1 and P.2 show the panel’s consensus ratings of the 19 level 3 technologies for the TA13 roadmap. None of them are ranked as high priority, primarily because the benefit of each technology would be a minor improvement in life cycle cost, at best. TABLE P.1 Technology Area Breakdown Structure for TA13, Ground and Launch Systems Processing NASA Draft Roadmap (Revision 10) Steering Committee-Recommended Changes The structure of this roadmap remains unchanged. TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing 13.1. Technologies to Optimize the Operational Life-Cycle 13.1.1. Storage, Distribution & Conservation of Fluids 13.1.2. Automated Alignment, Coupling, & Assembly Systems 13.1.3. Autonomous Command & Control for Ground and Integrated Vehicle/Ground Systems 13.2. Environmental and Green Technologies 13.2.1. Corrosion Prevention, Detection, & Mitigation 13.2.2. Environmental Remediation & Site Restoration 13.2.3. Preservation of Natural Ecosystems 13.2.4. Alternate Energy Prototypes 13.3. Technologies to Increase Reliability and Mission Availability 13.3.1. Advanced Launch Technologies 13.3.2. Environment-Hardened Materials and Structures 13.3.3. Inspection, Anomaly Detection & Identification 13.3.4. Fault Isolation and Diagnostics 13.3.5. Prognostics Technologies 13.3.6. Repair, Mitigation, and Recovery Technologies 13.3.7. Communications, Networking, Timing & Telemetry 13.4. Technologies to Improve Mission Safety/Mission Risk 13.4.1. Range Tracking, Surveillance & Flight Safety Technologies 13.4.2. Landing & Recovery Systems & Components 13.4.3. Weather Prediction and Mitigation 13.4.4. Robotics/Tele-robotics 13.4.5. Safety Systems

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315 APPENDIX P ls oa ds lG ee na N ch io s at es Te N en o ce er bl pa ds A na SA os ee so er g N A ea in d) -N -A SA R m te on on d A Ti gh an N N N d ei rt ith ith ith an k (W fo is y w w w rit ng Ef lR e t t t rio or en en en ci d ca an Sc en lP it nm nm nm ni ef qu ne ch e FD en lig lig lig m Se Pa Te Ti Q B A A A Multiplier 27 5 2 2 10 4 4 0/1/3/9 0/1/3/9 0/1/3/9 0/1/3/9 1/3/9 -9/-3/-1/1 -9/-3/-1/0 Alignment Risk/Difficulty Technology Name Benefit 106 M 13.1.1. Storage, Distribution, Conservation of Fluids 1 9 9 1 3 -3 -1 44 L 13.1.2. Automated Alignment, Coupling, and Assembly Systems 1 3 0 0 1 -1 -1 13.1.3. Autonomous Command and Control for Ground and 60 L 1 3 1 1 3 -3 -1 Integrated Vehicle/Ground Systems 92 M 13.2.1. Corrosion Prevention, Detection, and Mitigation 1 3 1 9 3 1 -1 55 L 13.2.2. Environmental Remediation and Site Restoration 1 0 0 9 1 1 -1 31 L 13.2.3. Preservation of Natural Ecosystems 0 1 1 9 3 -3 -3 19 L 13.2.4. Alternate Energy Prototypes 0 1 1 3 3 -3 -3 54 L 13.3.1. Advanced Launch Technologiesg 1 3 3 0 3 -3 -3 68 L 13.3.2. Environment-Hardened Materials and Structures 1 3 3 3 3 -3 -1 94 M 13.3.3. Inspection, Anomaly Detection, and Identification 1 9 3 1 3 -3 -1 94 M 13.3.4. Fault Isolation and Diagnostics 1 9 3 1 3 -3 -1 94 M 13.3.5. Prognostics Technologies 1 9 3 1 3 -3 -1 94 M 13.3.6. Repair, Mitigation, and Recovery Technologies 1 9 3 1 3 -3 -1 77 M 13.3.7. Communications, Networking, Timing, and Telemetry 0 9 9 0 3 -3 -1 13.4.1. Range Tracking, Surveillance, and Flight Safety 120 M 1 9 9 0 3 1 -1 Technologies 58 L 13.4.2. Landing and Recovery Systems and Components 1 3 1 0 3 -3 -1 79 M 13.4.3. Weather Prediction and Mitigation 0 9 9 1 3 -3 -1 47 L 13.4.4. Robotics / Telerobotics 0 9 3 1 1 -3 -1 94 M 13.4.5. Safety Systems yy 1 9 9 1 1 -1 -1 FIGURE P.1 Quality function deployment (QFD) summary matrix for TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing. M = Medium Priority; L = Low Priority. 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 13.4.1. Range Tracking, Surveillance, and Flight  Safety Technologies 13.1.1. Storage, Distribution,  Conservation of Fluids Medium Priority 13.3.3. Inspection, Anomaly Detection, and Identification 13.3.4. Fault Isolation and Diagnostics 13.3.5. Prognostics Technologies 13.3.6. Repair, Mitigation, and Recovery Technologies 13.4.5. Safety Systems 13.2.1. Corrosion Prevention, Detection, and Mitigation 13.4.3. Weather Prediction and Mitigation 13.3.7. Communications, Networking, Timing, and Telemetry 13.3.2. Environment‐Hardened Materials  and Structures Low Priority 13.1.3. Autonomous Command and Control for Ground and Integrated  Vehicle/Ground Systems 13.4.2. Landing and Recovery Systems and Components 13.2.2. Environmental Remediation and Site Restoration 13.3.1. Advanced Launch Technologies 13.4.4. Robotics / Telerobotics 13.1.2. Automated Alignment,  Coupling, and Assembly  Systems 13.2.3. Preservation of Natural Ecosystems 13.2.4. Alternate Energy Prototypes FIGURE P.2 Quality function deployment rankings for TA13 Ground and Launch Systems Processing.

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316 NASA SPACE TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPS AND PRIORITIES HIGH-PRIORITY LEVEL 3 TECHNOLOGIES As noted above, the panel did not identify any high-priority Level 3 technologies for TA13. MEDIUM- AND LOW-PRIORITY TECHNOLOGIES The TA13 roadmap is, for the most part, composed of various engineering projects that, while probably useful in reducing the cost of launching vehicles, are not primarily technology development undertakings within the TRL 1-6 threshold of this study. The best approach for reducing the cost of future NASA ground and launch systems processing is to design new launch vehicles from the outset for low-cost operation. Much has already been learned in the commercial launch vehicle sector about how to reduce the cost of ground operations. In considering the merit of diverting NASA resources to drive down launch operations costs through technol - ogy development, it should be noted that for the foreseeable future, the rate of launch of NASA payloads will be low and will occur largely through procurement of launch services from private companies who will conduct their own ground and launch systems processing using their own facilities. As a result, it is unlikely that NASA will be developing multiple launch systems of its own in the foreseeable future. In addition, the largest cost content in NASA ELV missions tends to reside in the payload, launch vehicle, and on-orbit operations, with launch opera - tions costs being only a very small part of the total mission investment. Therefore, it is not advisable for NASA to make significant technology investments in advancing ground and launch systems processing. DEVELOPMENT AND SCHEDULE CHANGES COVERED BY THE ROADMAP The panel does not have any recommendations with regard to development and schedule changes. PUBLIC WORKSHOP SUMMARY The workshop for the Ground and Launch Systems Processing technology area was conducted by the Propul - sion and Power Panel on March 24, 2011, on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The discussion was led by panel member Joyce McDevitt. McDevitt started the day by giving a general overview of the roadmap and the NRC statement of task for this study. She also provided some direction for what topics the invited speakers should cover in their presentations. Experts from industry, academia, and government were invited to lead a 25 minute presentation and discussion of their perspective on the draft NASA roadmap for TA13. At the end of the session, there was a short open discussion by the workshop attendees that focused on the recent session. At the end of the day, there was a concluding discussion led by McDevitt summarizing the key points observed during the day’s discussion. Session 1: Traditional Launch Service Providers Bernard Kutter (United Launch Alliance) began the session with traditional launch services providers by reviewing the recent development of the ground systems for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. He noted that ground systems technology is architecture specific and needs be incorporated in the early stages of launch system design. The cost of the EELV system was reduced by taking advantage of state-of-the-art technology to streamline operations. Kutter noted that development of some new technologies might offer modest benefits. These technologies are related to sub-cooling of cryogenic propellants, enhancing the performance of water suppression systems, enabling development of space-based ranges for launch, and facilitating automation of expert systems. Bill Findiesen (Boeing) focused on a few areas within the draft roadmap for TA13 related to anomaly detec - tion, isolation, and prognostics with greater autonomy. He presented the results of a previous study that concluded there was a potential for a next generation reusable launch vehicle to have ground support costs 30 percent to 40

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317 APPENDIX P percent lower than the ground support costs for the space shuttle. This would require incorporating automation and integration of disparate systems early in the design of the new vehicle and its ground systems. This would likely involve providing more real-time information to ground support personnel. He envisioned that advances in ground support technology would also improve mission assurance as well as launch reliability and safety, particularly if a large data set is collected during the vehicle development and early testing. John Steinmeyer (Orbital) said that ground operations are critical to launch success, and they represent a significant portion of launch costs. He also noted that vehicle on-pad time drives operations costs; launch sites are austere environments that are tough on infrastructure. He emphasized that launch site costs are a function of requirements that driven by vehicle, payload, and mission complexities. He provided some lessons learned, such as the importance of detailed and repeatable procedures; small, experienced launch teams; highly automated fueling, and streamlined vehicle-payload integration. The specific technologies that he believes will support NASA’s next heavy lift system include vehicle health monitoring, cryogenic fluid management, helium optimization, automated fueling systems, corrosion protection, and distributed mission control. Stan Graves (ATK) emphasized the advantage provided by automated systems in reducing the human error, thereby increasing reliability and reducing costs. He said that designing a vehicle for support is better than design - ing support for a vehicle. He also suggested moving manufacturing operations off site and should be thought of as a commercial operation. Finally he stated that designing a more robust vehicle will lead to reduced launch delays and overall cost savings. He suggested that these improvements are mostly engineering solutions and do not require new technologies. In the group discussion that followed several workshop participants said that much of the improvements in ground processing will involve the insertion of proven technologies, including state-of-the-art information process- ing and data technologies, rather than the development of new technologies. It was noted that NASA will desire to balance (1) near-term cost savings associated with reuse of existing infrastructure with (2) long-term cost savings associated with the development and deployment of new systems. Several participants also suggested that the launch site footprint and on-pad time should both be reduced as much as possible. Session 2: New and Emerging Companies Jeff Greason (XCOR) began the session with new and emerging companies in the suborbital and launch indus - tries by reporting that XCOR’s ground and flight operations are a significant departure from traditional launch systems and have much more in common is aircraft. XCOR’s launch vehicle does not use any toxic materials or pyrotechnics, enabling all of their operations to easily meet OSHA and other government standards. XCOR does not operate on a federal space launch range, nor do they have any range safety systems. Instead, XCOR relies on the pilot to handle anomalies and aborts. Preflight operations take about 90 minutes and four people, and XCOR has demonstrated a vehicle turnaround time of less than 9 minutes. William Pomerantz (Virgin Galactic) said that their system is also significantly different than conventional launch systems, and it also has the ability to flying multiple times per day. Their top design drivers are increasing flight rate, reducing costs, and improving safety. Pomerantz said that most of the technologies in the NASA ground and launch processing roadmap have little value to Virgin Galactic, but a few could be useful. Those include upper atmosphere weather monitoring; temperature hardened materials; and fault detection, isolation, and reconfiguration. He also suggested that some worthwhile technologies might be missing, such as lightning protection, information technologies for ground support, and integrated strain sensing systems. Brett Alexander (Commercial Spaceflight Federation) was unable to attend the workshop, but William Pomer- antz presented his material. He began by reviewing the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s mission, which is to make commercial human spaceflight a reality through advocacy and sharing best industry practices to improve safety. He encouraged NASA to balance its traditional mission with the ability to adapt to a much more diverse launch industry with new concepts and quicker launch tempos. He believes the most challenging future systems will be those that are new to NASA, such as a reusable rockets with powered vertical descent. Gordon Woodcock (formerly of Boeing) said that each technology’s importance should be considered in the context of its ability to support potential exploration architectures. He presented an architecture proposal that takes

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318 NASA SPACE TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPS AND PRIORITIES advantage of several in-space technology developments to reduce launch requirements and eliminate the need to develop a large heavy-lift launch vehicle. This system would rely on advanced electric propulsion systems, reus - able flight elements, and in-space storage and transfer of propellants. To make such an architecture feasible and affordable, the flight rate of large boosters would need to be increased through technology that reduces on-pad time and automates the checkout process. He also noted the importance of significantly reducing the amount of helium used for launch. In the group session there was some discussion on what technologies could be of use to the emerging launch companies. There was little agreement. For example, on the topic of non-destructive evaluation, one speaker said that an emerging company would rather build a stronger structure than incorporate internal health monitoring. When asked how NASA can streamline operations, several participants said NASA should simplify systems and procedures as much as possible and make the flight system much more self contained and autonomous, all of which might require starting from stretch. There was also some discussion on the architecture proposed by Woodcock. He said the single most important technology advance would be advanced electric propulsion systems. Another participant noted that architectures that take into account the full cost of operations do not look like the Apollo architecture, but NASA keeps relying on Apollo-like architectures. Session 3: Other Interested Parties Emmett Peter (Walt Disney Company) began the session by presenting an overview of the engineering that the Walt Disney Company uses to ensure the safety and operability of its amusement park rides. These rides carry millions of passengers each year, which means that one-in-a-million incidents are more likely and system life and operational standards must be at a high level to prevent them. The systems are rarely able to incorporate off-the-shelf equipment. They are designed to be mistake proof, and they rely heavily on autonomy. For example, some systems use automated coupling and transfer of high-pressure gasses and fluids, with hundreds of coupling cycles each day. Peter also reviewed Disney’s automated maintenance verification system, which features clear responsibilities and timelines and incorporates handheld wireless units for technicians. After reviewing the NASA roadmaps, he said that consistency and commonality are useful but difficult to achieve. Also, classifying and qualifying parts in order of criticality is a good practice to assure that inspection is focused on the correct parts; the highest payoff for ground systems might be found in structural health monitoring and corrosion technologies. Brian Wilcox (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) presented an architecture that offered a radical departure from tra - ditional systems. His architecture would use a high-altitude, equatorially tethered balloon to winch rocket stages above to an altitude above 95 percent of the atmosphere. Launching rockets from a position above the atmosphere improves the performance of the small rocket systems that are featured in Wilcox’s architecture. Wilcox believes that mass producing small rockets at a rate of more than 5,000 per year would lead to significant cost savings over producing a few traditional rockets. The payloads from 222 of these small rockets would be assembled on orbit into large propulsion stages. Edward Bowles (General Atomics) reviewed the development of the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and discussed the potential for using the technology for space launch. The next generation of U.S. aircraft carriers will use EMALS instead of traditional steam-powered catapults. EMALS will use linear electric motors to provide up to 300,000 pounds of force to launch aircraft and recover naval aircraft. Adapting this technology to develop a rocket launch assist system would require much longer linear motors to accelerate much larger vehicles to much higher velocities. The most expensive part of the space-launch EMALS system would be the power gen - eration systems. The goal would be to accelerate a vehicle weighing 500 tons to a speed of Mach 3 using a track 8 miles long. Bowles suggested such a system could break even after about 40 launches. In the group discussion, Peter said that the Disney Corporation designs their systems for constancy and interop- erability from the beginning. He also said that they design with margins based on the part class with critical parts having significant margins. He also said that Disney uses stainless steel and a lot of brushing and coating to fight corrosion. Wilcox said that his system does not require any significant technology investment, and the concept could be demonstrated with a subscale balloon. Bowles said that the terminal velocity of his system is limited by

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319 APPENDIX P the frequency of the electronics. He also said that his system could be developed without significant technology advances, although advances in power system technology would be beneficial. Session 4: Safety Experts and Non-NASA Government Personnel The final session of the day was aimed capturing the views of safety experts and non-NASA government agencies. John Schmidt (Naval Research Laboratory) began the session with safety experts and non-NASA government personnel by noting that many safety systems can be generalized across multiple aviation, maritime, and space applications. He spent the majority of his talk reviewing efforts by the U.S. Navy to mitigate corrosion more effec - tively. Recent emphasis has been on improving and optimizing the human efforts to combat corrosion. That can be accomplished by improving tools, work environments, and training. The Navy is also working on improving incident data capture. Michael Kelly (Federal Aviation Administration) endorsed NASA efforts to improve automated on-board checkout and vehicle health management. As a result, he said, U.S. systems will be operated in a manner similar to the operation of Russian systems, albeit with more advanced technology. Kelly also supported improvements in inspection, anomaly detection and identification, and telemetry and tracking. He agreed with an emphasis on commonality of communication, although he suggested that commonality will not be beneficial for most other systems because of the challenge of achieving “one-size-fits-all” solutions. This is particularly true with the diverse new vehicle designs being developed by emerging, nontraditional space launch companies. Kelly also foresees that new affordable vehicles will be tightly integrated systems with streamlined operations. He also noted that all of his suggestions could be achieved without much in the way of technology advances. Instead, the major challenges are associated with engineering and implementation.