FAA Established Practices for Human Space Flight Occupant Safety (Draft)

Status Report From: FAA Office of the Associate Administrator for Commercial
Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013


1. Purpose

The issuance of this document continues a conversation - a conversation between the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the commercial space transportation industry, and other stakeholders on commercial human space flight occupant safety. AST has developed this document to share our thoughts about established practices for human space flight occupant safety. Ultimately, our goal is to gain the consensus of government, industry, and academia on established practices as part of our mandate to encourage, facilitate, and promote the continuous improvement of the safety of launch and reentry vehicles designed to carry humans. The outcome of this effort may also serve as a starting point for a future rulemaking project, although AST has no plans to start a rulemaking project in the near term.

2. Scope

The scope of this document includes suborbital and orbital launch and reentry vehicles. The document assumes that any orbital vehicle will stay on orbit for a maximum of 2 weeks, and can return to earth in under 24 hours if necessary. Orbital rendezvous and docking, long duration flights, extravehicular activity, and any flights beyond earth orbit are not explicitly covered in this document. Future versions of this document may cover such additional human space flight operations.

The established practices in this document cover occupant safety only; public safety and mission assurance are not covered. This document also takes a clean sheet approach to occupant safety, that is, it assumes no other regulations act to protect occupants from harm. This includes AST's existing regulations in 14 CFR Chapter III.

Lastly, the established practices in this document cover occupants from when they are exposed to vehicle hazards prior to flight through when they are no longer exposed to vehicle hazards after landing.

3. Development Process

Fifty years of human space flight by governments has provided AST with a wealth of information to use in developing this document. AST reviewed a number of existing government and private sector requirements and standards including those from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency, and the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety. AST chose to primarily use

Draft Established Practices for Human Space FlightPage 5 of 49 Occupant SafetyNASA's requirements and guidance for its Commercial Crew Program1 to guide the development of this document. The purpose was not to copy NASA's requirements, but to use them as a means to capture areas of concern for human space flight.

We also worked closely with three organizations. We held 8 teleconferences with the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) from the summer of 2012 to the spring of 2013 on various topics reflected in this document. We also worked closely with the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute on medical issues. Lastly, studies related to human space flight safety were conducted by the FAA's Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, particularly the University of Colorado and the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Full document 

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