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ULA Completes Two Commercial Crew Milestones
Artist's conception of ULA's Atlas V rocket This is an artist's conception of a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket being considered for NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP).
Image credit: ULA
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One of NASA's industry partners, United Launch Alliance (ULA), successfully completed two milestones that could eventually lead toward the certification of its Atlas V launch vehicle for human spaceflight.

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 gave us an invaluable opportunity to get to know its Atlas V systems and subsystems through our unfunded partnership,” said Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango. “And we are happy to share our knowledge and expectations to keeping our crews safe."

The first review was a Tailored System Requirements Review (TSRR), which looked at how the existing, flight-proven Atlas V rocket could meet the intent of NASA's human spaceflight certification requirements. The team paid particular emphasis to requirements traceability, verification and certification planning.

"The TSRR was the result of an extensive effort with NASA and our commercial spacecraft partners during which we cooperatively reviewed the details of the 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."

The second review was a Probabilistic Safety Analysis (PSA) Review, which evaluated safety-critical launch vehicle systems. This included the details of existing failure modes and effects analyses data, ULA’s probabilistic risk assessment approach for CCP, 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 New Horizons, Juno and the Mars Science Laboratory.

"The PSA provided a firm foundation to show how the demonstrated reliability of the Atlas V offers significant benefits toward meeting NASA's stringent crew safety requirements," Sowers said. "We received invaluable insight from NASA's Commercial Crew Program while allowing us to provide the details behind the reliability and robustness of the Atlas V design."

Three of the four current NASA Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) partners have selected Atlas V as their launch vehicle.

All of NASA’s industry partners continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station reducing the amount of time America is without its own system.

For more information about NASA's Commercial Crew Program, visit:


Candrea Thomas
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.