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29 July 2012
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16 July 2012
Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
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7 December 2008
"What the Growth of a Space Tourism Industry Could Contribute to Employment, Economic Growth, Environmental Protection, Education, Culture and World Peace" is now the top entry on Space Future's Key Documents list.
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W Gaubatz, May 24-31, 1998, "Reusable Space Transportation - The Key Infrastructure Element In Opening the Space Frontier To the Public", Invited Paper 98-o-1-O1V. 21st International Symposium On Space Technology and Science, May 24-31, 1998,Sonic City, Omiya, Japan. Re-usable Space Transportation System Session.
Also downloadable from space transportation the key infrastructure element.shtml

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Reusable Space Transportation - The Key Infrastructure Element In Opening the Space Frontier To the Public
Dr. William A Gaubatz

Foreword: Space remains as the last great frontier to be opened to the public. It is tantalizingly close to the entire world's population, yet only a very elite group of men and women have traveled there. Opening the Space Frontier to the Public means overcoming transportation infrastructure problems the first major one being the development of safe, reusable spaceplanes and rocketships. The development challenges involved are enormous and full of tough engineering problems. To turn new technologies into practical designs that can be manufactured and maintained for routine, low cost, operations is proving to be a tremendous undertaking But there are equally tough regulatory processes and procedures to be put into place to govern these developments. Vision, reality and commitment on the part of governments and industries will be required to overcome these challenges and to establish, maintain and regulate an immense and effective new transportation infrastructure for space -- the Spaceways.

The Spaceways will enable the space frontier to reach its potential as a major new economic sector. Overall architectures for the Spaceways must be developed and methods for planning, monitoring and controlling the traffic need to be developed and demonstrated. Available and developing technologies for reusable space systems support the achievement of the performance and operations required for the Spaceways. It is now time to begin a new focus to assure that such operations and performance can be maintained to achieve both sustained flight safety and low cost, profitable operations. A certification process for reusable space transportation systems design and operation will provide the systematic approach for achieving this focus.

Such processes must be carried out as international cooperative efforts by governments and industries as part of a broad space-development objective, centered on first developing the Spaceways infrastructure. This development will stimulate the entrepreneurs, fully engage the public, and bring to reality, the benefits of a place called space. My future vision for space is an economic vision that will be realized through first achieving a transportation vision.

Spaceways and the Space Frontier:

Spaceways are much more than vehicles for getting to low earth orbit. The Spaceways must include elements such as the space traffic control systems, ground support systems, the navigation and weather systems, the collision avoidance systems, the refueling stations and spaceports.

The Spaceways must also have the laws, policies, procedures and protocols to regulate and control them. Spaceways must simply become a service for those who need to travel to and from space -- just like we plan for air travel or ground travel to day. We, as a community of "space faring' nations, need to plan for a Spaceways architecture that can stimulate the opening of the space frontier and then grow to support its expansion.

Spaceways architecture planning must be carried out in the context of a total infrastructure development, providing a continuum of safe, low cost transportation services. Clearly the first step that must be taken is getting from Earth to near Earth orbit on a routine basis from spaceports, located throughout the world, that support terrestrial as well as in-space markets and with economical, non-debris creating vehicles. How might this development evolve?

On entering the 21st Century, traffic associated with the International Space Station ( ISS) development and operation along with increased military and civilian use of space for communication, navigation and observation will likely force the issues of managing and regulating the Spaceways. A space traffic control system will be established. ISS operations will likely result in the first regularly scheduled flights for the Space Shuttle and expendable launch vehicles for delivery of cargo, equipment and crews for the broad set of science, Earth observation and industrial experiments. Emergency evacuation routes and services for ISS crews will be established. Space navigation and launch control using the Global Positioning Satellite and telecommunication satellites network will be introduced.

As the world's telephone markets are opened and the "information highway" continues to expand, the "explosive" development of near Earth orbit telecommunication satellites, will likely double the use of the Spaceways and increase the number of spaceport locations and nations using the Spaceway s. A number of satellite constellations are planned involving hundreds of satellites being placed into orbit, serviced, and eventually replaced by newer, higher performance models. Nations participating in and using these new services will also participate in the launching of these satellites from new spaceports and new launch systems. This new market will enable the commercial introduction of the first reusable space vehicles (RSV), leading to the opening of space for business.

Developments from the International Space Station will stimulate commercial uses of the space environment and "space-manufacturing and industrial parks" facilities will be developed and operated followed by living facilities for the employees and visitors.

Development of the in-space infrastructure itself will become a major business and Spaceways may be dedicated to support this construction work. Expendable launch vehicle routes will be augmented and will have begun to be replaced by reusable space vehicles. Lower costs of transportation brought about by the reusable systems will enable more exploration of the moon, and permanent lunar mappers will be placed in orbit to monitor the lunar surface. Space adventure travel will be well established.

The Spaceways will continue to expand supporting lunar developments and settlements, planetary explorations, and other orbital operations and businesses. With high reliability demonstrated through many years of safe transport of passengers to and from and through space, we will be able to carry our hazardous wastes to in-space facilities for processing, storage and disposal.

The new space economy will develop requirements (and its new revenues will pay) for further science and space exploration and an expansion of the space frontier beyond the Earth and Moon boundaries. We will need to establish multiple lunar spaceports to support the development of a lunar infrastructure and we will need a lunar Spaceways traffic control system. We will begin to harvest the natural resources of space including solar energy as well as the minerals from nearby asteroids, as the space frontier begins to return goods and services and add new sources of wealth to earth. And our L-5 colony will at last be realized.

There will be a number of categories of Spaceways routes, defined by their uses and the type of equipment that might be operated along these routes for the Earth-Moon Frontier. There are probably at least four main categories of routes:

  1. Earth to Low-Earth-Orbits;
  2. Near Earth Operations;
  3. Earth to Earth rapid transport; and,
  4. Earth-Orbit to the Moon.

These routes will serve many users and will be assigned according to their use. For example, there may be designated emergency routes assigned permanently or on a priority basis or there may be separate routes assigned for transport of hazardous materials.

We will begin to plan our trips and shipments of our goods to other countries and continents through connecting spaceport pairs. Thus, routine terrestrial travel routes for people and cargo will be established, shrinking the world for international commerce and travel. Australia, for example, will be as close to European markets as it is to Pacific Rim markets. Transportation through the Spaceways will support a true global economy.

However, when viewed from the reality of today, there are widely disparate views held as to how close we are to achieving this vision for space. Far from being ready to join our colleagues for lunch at the LEO Palace Hotel, the reality is that we are in the pioneering stages of building the Spaceways for the 21st century. As much work remains for us now as there was for the pioneers of the past who labored to establish the railways infrastructure in the last century and the roadways and airways infrastructure in this century.

Planning for the Spaceways requires a change in how we think about space transportation. A launch to space today is scheduled because we have a specific satellite to place into orbit, a science experiment to carry-out or a planetary probe to send on its way. Our infrastructure is designed to support this type of travel. Our metric for effectiveness is dollars per pound and we build very large launch systems to minimize this metric. Operations require months of planning and are subject to change and delays due to weather. Every launch is a new experience because the same vehicle is never flown more than once. Space development is bounded by this limited transportation capability.

To open space, we must have a transportation infrastructure that supports hundreds then thousands of flights per year to and from and through space. An infrastructure that can help the economic expansion of space and then grow with the new demands of space travel. Effectiveness will be measured by cost per flight and availability - when you post a flight schedule the customer wants to fly then - not when it is convenient for your spaceplane to fly or your spaceport to sup port a flight. The goal must be to service the space frontier, supporting unbounded developments.

Establishing the Spaceways requires an emphasis on low cost with high operational safety - reusable vehicles that can be type certified and commercially operated and maintained for years of safe, routine flight. Operations that will stimulate and support future growth of the space frontier.

Opening the Spaceways

Opening the Spaceways is a multi-faceted infrastructure development problem. Although presently it is being "pursued by individual nations and companies with some international cooperation, Spaceways development must ultimately be accomplished as an international undertaking because the issues are international in scope. Unlike ground, water, and air transportation where it may take hours to arrive at a foreign destination or enter the territorial boundaries of other nations, when you take off for a space trip you are headed for other nation's territories within minutes.

Although individual nations need to put their own policies into place, their implementations need to be carried out in an atmosphere of international cooperation. This international planning should begin now during the most formative stages of the Spaceways. Standards need to be adopted or developed covering all aspects of the Spaceways development and operations. We must have procedures and tests that will validate the designs and satisfy the public's confidence in the safety of these spaceplanes, and gain their vote in allowing spaceplanes to fly over cities and towns, and carry passengers.

It is important that the regulatory requirements be developed now, which will support the design and technology and operational requirements needed to preserve the public health and safety, as these new systems begin their development flights and eventually go into routine operation. I believe that the way to do this is to start looking at space transportation in the same way that we look at our present airline transportation systems.

This involves changing our thinking and our design and operational approaches from today's probabilistic launch readiness approach to a deterministic flight safety approach. This requires two key elements 1) fail safe designs and 2) maintenance that sustains the safe design. These are at the heart of the success of our aircraft and airline industries; these are industries that have flourished under the government oversight of industry's self regulation. In the United States the government oversight has been provided by the FAA.


The Air Commerce Act of May 1926, was the cornerstone of the Federal government's regulation of civil aviation. This landmark legislation was passed at the urging of the aviation industry, whose leaders believed the airplane could not reach its full commercial potential without Federal action to improve and maintain safety standards. The Act charged the Secretary of Commerce with fostering air commerce, issuing and enforcing air traffic rules, licensing pilots, certifying aircraft, establishing airways, and operating and maintaining aids to air navigation [1].

The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 created the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate air commerce, to promote its development and safety and to promote, encourage, and develop civil aeronautics. The Act empowered FAA to prescribe and revise rules and Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR's) relative to operational safety as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations , Number 14 for Aeronautics and Space. The current FAA certification system and FAR's has produced the safest and most efficient mode of transportation in existence.

The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, 1988 and currently proposed amendments is the cornerstone of the U. S. government's regulation of space transportation. The Act of 1984 empowered the former Office of Commercial Space Transportation (OCST), now the FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) to issue commercial Spaceport licenses and commercial operator's licenses based on an evaluation of the Operator's ability to ensure public safety and to safeguard property and environment. The applicable FAR's for the commercial operator's license are provided in CFR 14. The proposed current amendments would specifically include RSV transportation systems.

Commercial Aircraft Safety

That air travel has come to be the safest mode of transportation while supporting a very profitable aircraft and airline industry is the result of a highly cooperative, highly interactive program between government and industry. At the core of this successful cooperation is a well defined process with experienced honed procedures providing governing boundaries of safety at every step in the design and development, production, operation and maintenance of new and existing air transportation systems. This process sets (and updates through operational experience) the standards by which the FAA, regulates industry and industry regulates itself. This process has one overarching goal -- assurance and protection of public safety and safeguard of property and environment. For space travel to realize its financial potential a similar process must be put into place with a single purpose goal of ensuring public safety and safeguarding of property and environment. A decision to proceed with the reusable space transportation systems needed for the Spaceways commercial design, development, production and operation can only be made with an understanding of its ability to be designed and operated to meet this goal for public safety.

In reaching for this goal it is essential to recognize the distinction between system safety and reliability.

Reliability deals with how often something fails. Safety deals with what happens when something fails. This leads to the fail safe rule which must govern the design of reusable space transportation systems.

During any given flight, no single failure or foreseeable combinations shall prevent the continued safe flight and safe landing of the vehicle.

The regulations have been developed, incorporating years of experience, to guide the design and operations; these cover what must be done not how to do it. The designer must decide how best to achieve safe designs that support safe operations.

An initial evaluation of the existing FAR's was conducted to assess the applicability of the existing FARs to the design of reusable space vehicles. The CFR 14 FAR Parts 1 through 1200 (January 1995 edition) were screened in the same way that they might be screened for a new aircraft. For this assessment it was assumed that the reusable space vehicle (RSV) would be similar in to a subsonic transport in overall operations. In the first screening the FAR's not applicable to a subsonic large transport aircraft were eliminated. Next, the large transport aircraft FAR's that are not applicable to the RSV design were eliminated. A matrix worksheet that shows applicable FAR's number and title and FAR applicability for the RSV sub-systems was developed. Sub-systems were identified using Air Transport Association (ATA) 100 specification documents hierarchical functional breakdown, coding and index.

The results suggest that the certification requirements for new RSV's can be developed within the existing CFR 14 FAR's)and that the FAR's and policies for RSV should, therefore, be very similar to that of the commercial aircraft and follow a certification process that assures flight safety at each step: This process encompasses activities in the RSV design, development production/manufacturing, Operational test and evaluation (GTE) and revenue operations phases. The objective is to;

  1. obtain an experimental type certification to operate, maintain and support the RSV during the GTE phase;
  2. use GTE experience and empirical data to obtain a type certificate and commercial operator's license for continued airworthiness during revenue operations.

The key for successful certification process is government/industry interaction and active participation from program outset. The industry and government representatives must work jointly to prepare and process applications, develop and approve the Certification Program Plan (CPP) with specific certification basis applicable to RSV type design. This joint effort must then continue throughout design, production GTE and revenue operations phases.

RSV will operate in speed regimes and altitudes beyond that of a subsonic and supersonic aircraft and it is recognized that the existing 14 CFR FAR's do not cover all areas of the RSV design, production, test and evaluation, and operations.

A starting point objective of the international reusable space transportation community should be to work jointly as a government and industry team to identify these areas where existing regulations are applicable and where new or modified regulations are required. This could be done through "issue papers" and proposed regulatory solutions using existing rule making processes.

By putting into place type certification and commercial operator's licensing process for specific RSV type designs from program outset the overall program risk will be reduced leading to RSVs that are capable of meeting market requirements and system effectiveness goals within the operational safety criteria such as are defined in applicable CFR 14 FAR's.

Within this process FAA/AST, for example, could issue a variety of certificates and licenses, following the same type of process as for commercial aircraft. These include:

  1. Type Design Certificate - Issued to RSV manufacturer for approval of a specific type design of RSV flight vehicle, ground systems and operations functions.
  2. Production Certificate - Issued to RSV manufacturer (holder of type design certificate) when shown quality control and production methods insures RSV equipment conform to type design certification FAR's and are in condition for safe operation.
  3. Airworthiness Certificate - Issued to manufacturer for a specific RSV type design, flight operations and maintenance that meets approved design and is in condition for safe operations and continued airworthiness.
  4. Commercial Operator's license - Issued to RSV operator for continued operations at designated commercial Spaceport that has the above certificates.
  5. Spaceport license - Issued to designated Spaceport operating site after evaluation of site safety and environmental requirements.
  6. Other Approvals - Issued for components and parts manufacturer approval, Technical Standard Order (TSO), component repair and overhaul shops, vehicle and engine repair and overhaul facilities, flight operations training schools, maintenance training schools, etc.

Certification involves the total system - the Flight Vehicle, Ground Systems and Operations. The certification process considers all aspects of the operating cycle as well as all elements of the system.

Integrated Certification Process for RSV

Given that RSV's are expected to operate in performance envelope which were not envisioned when the current airworthiness standards were defined, type certification and commercial operator's licensing will encounter new issues. To be successful, RSV should be designed with "build-in" safety margins using existing commercial aircraft fall-safe design rule and methods. These margins still will have to be verified through years of operational experience. The RSV must meet environmental requirements for noise, emissions and hazardous materials handling, must provide the same level of safety, reliability, operability and supportability found in commercial aircraft, and must be economically successful. Just like for aircraft operations, the reusable space transportation systems must consider all segments of the flight. These segments will vary depending how the systems are implemented, for example, single stage to orbit, two stage to orbit or even a mix of expendable and reusable elements.

Throughout the process there will be very well defined roles that the government and industry have to assure flight safety.

Industry Applicant For example, the applicant would be responsible for showing and demonstrating to the FAA/AST compliance with certification basis, certification applications and certification process as defined in a jointly prepared CPP. Applicant would submit the type design and substantiating data necessary to show that the RSV system meets the CPP ground rules, certification policies.

Applicant would allow designated FAA/AST representatives to make any inspection and evaluation of the RSV major elements design, manufacturing/production, component qualification testing, OTE ground tests and demonstration flights necessary to determine compliance with CPP ground rules, cost/schedule and certification basis FAR's.

Applicant would be responsible to provide the qualified and experienced flight operations personnel necessary to operate the RSV major elements, provide the qualified and experienced payload specialists and integration personnel necessary to process payloads and integrate standard payload containers with the vehicle, and provide the qualified and experienced personnel necessary to maintain and support the RSV major elements.

FAA/AST Responsibility The FAA/AST certification office would be responsible for providing guidance in the preparation of an application, joint preparation of the CPP, determining/approval of certification basis data base, determination of equivalent levels of operational safety, approval of application and supporting system engineering data, monitoring of the type certification process, performing type inspections and test needed to verify compliance, approval of technical manuals and issuing an experimental and subsequent type certificates and commercial operator's license for RSV type design.

Post Certification Activities

The post certification is a key activity for it verifies the ability to maintain the flight safety through-out the operational life of the system. These type certification results would be documented in form of summary and type inspection reports. The revenue operations continued airworthiness reviews and evaluation would be conducted on periodic basis. The FAA/AST would, on as required basis, organize and participate in an incident/accident investigation to review event condition and conduct failure analysis to determine root/cause(s) of the incident or accident. FAA/A ST might also issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) or Space Worthiness (SD) (ref. CFR Title 14, FAR Part 39) which the applicant (manufacturer and operator) must comply with to continue the RSV system revenue operations.

Overall Process

There are well defined processes in place, such as have been developed and fine tuned by the FAA, that have been proven for aircraft and airline operations safety. Our studies suggest that these will be equally applicable to goveming the development and operation of reusable space transportation systems and producing equally enviable safety records as have been achieved by the aircraft and airline industries.

The certification process is a living prescription for safety and must become an integral part of future reusable space transportation system design, test and operation. It need not be a "daunting" process, if it is incorporated from the beginning. It will lead to a safe design and a system whose safety can be maintained throughout its life. It will support a new transportation infrastructure that will be perceived and accepted by the public for safe, routine travel to and from and through space from spaceports located in their communities.

Time to Open the Spaceways

The technology is in-hand to achieve the performance and operations goals for the reusable space transportation needed to open the Spaceways. A new focus is required now to assure sustained flight safety and low cost operations demanded for the commercial success of the Spaceways. The certification process, so successfully used by the aircraft and airline industries, will provide this focus. It is time to put this process in place for reusable space transportation systems. This needs to be an international cooperative effort among governments and industries.

All will prosper by the resulting Spaceways operations being able to open space to the public and establish space as a major new economic sector.

W Gaubatz, May 24-31, 1998, "Reusable Space Transportation - The Key Infrastructure Element In Opening the Space Frontier To the Public", Invited Paper 98-o-1-O1V. 21st International Symposium On Space Technology and Science, May 24-31, 1998,Sonic City, Omiya, Japan. Re-usable Space Transportation System Session.
Also downloadable from space transportation the key infrastructure element.shtml

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