Inside spacecraft systems engineering at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is one of the fastest-growing disciplines in the agency.
And it has become a key area of focus for the agency’s new leadership, with a $100 billion, 20-year mission expected to be completed by 2025.
But it’s also a tough industry to master, with the challenge of keeping the technology up to date and developing a reliable spacecraft system from scratch.
For the first time, NASA is planning to develop a way to make a spacecraft system more reliable, so that it can be upgraded in the future, and that it doesn’t need to be modified or modified again.
The new system will be called the Space Shuttle Launch Vehicle-Heavy Crew Exploration Vehicle (STEV-H).
“Our plan is to make this work, to do it in a way that will have a very low probability of failure,” said David Stavridis, director of the STEV program at NASA.
“We’re hoping it can work, because this is something that’s really hard to do.”
The system is built on a stack of solid propellant and fuel tanks, called the Solid Fuel Assembly (SFA), which can be used to build a spacecraft with a payload of more than 100 people.
But as NASA has already proven, it’s not as simple as stacking up the solid propellants on top of each other.
It takes more than a dozen separate processes to build an SFA, which can weigh up to 2,000 tons and be designed to fit inside a spacecraft that is less than 100 feet long and only 10 feet wide.
The SFA is the foundation of the shuttle, which is designed to take astronauts to orbit.
“This is a big, big challenge,” said Mark Eakin, program manager for the Solid Booster Engine (SBE) program at the STEREO mission.
“It’s hard to get the right number of elements and the right combination of elements.
And this is one more thing that has to be done in a systematic way to get a very stable, reliable system.”
“It’s the biggest challenge of our career,” said Mike Griffin, project manager for Mission Systems Engineering at NASA Ames Research Center.
“This is going to be a challenge to the entire space program, and it’s a challenge we’re not going to get over.”
The challenge to maintain and upgrade the SFA and to make it robust to future missions is called “spacecraft modeling,” and it requires a large team of engineers to understand how the SFE can be adapted to fit different missions.
At Johnson Space, the team of three engineers is working on this challenge.
The engineers are the SBE team, the Solid Flight Engineering team, and the Flight Engineering group.
The team is based at the Johnson Space Flight Control Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and includes three engineers working at the SBA, a team of flight engineers at the NASA Ames Engineering Center in Moffett Field, California, and a team working at Johnson Space Operations Center in Culver City, California.
To do their work, engineers must first understand the system in its entirety and understand how it’s designed to work in the event of a disaster, and they must also understand how to apply the technology to the design of a spacecraft.
The team is working with NASA to design and test a software system to handle the software, which would then be tested in flight and used to verify the system’s ability to withstand various challenges, such as re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, and how it would handle a mission failure.
In a test run of the software on a mock-up vehicle, the system successfully passed tests and was approved for use.
But because the team has not yet completed a full test run on a fully-operational system, the agency is continuing to assess the system and is still working to figure out how it will perform in a mission.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate the system for the next several years,” said Stavidis.
“In the meantime, we have to make sure it works.
If it doesn, we’re going back to the drawing board.”
A NASA spokesman declined to provide any specifics about how the software is designed, other than to say it is built from the ground up to be the most reliable in the space program.
A test flight in October, and another in December, showed that the software system was still reliable enough for a launch.
But the company still hasn’t made any decisions about when it will make a final decision on when to put the system into service, and what that launch date will be.
NASA plans to begin the testing phase of the SSEA in February 2019, and then the testing and certification phase of it in April 2020.
The next phase of testing is expected to start in March 2019.
Stavridi said he hopes to have the first flight in the 2019