How Much Testing is Needed to Manage Supportability Risks for Beyond-LEO Missions?



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49th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Supportability will be a significantly greater driver of cost and risk for future deep-space crewed missions than it has been in the past. Spares requirements and maintenance risk mitigation in particular present an unprecedented challenge for missions beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO), since, for the first time in human spaceflight history, crews will be weeks or months away from resupply or a safe return to Earth in the event of an abort. Under these conditions, failure rates are a critical parameter that must be well-understood in order to manage logistics and risk effectively. However, failure rates cannot be measured directly, and can only be estimated based on past experience and test results. Previous research has shown that International Space Station (ISS) operational experience has provided significant benefits to future missions by reducing uncertainty and improving accuracy in failure rate estimates, resulting in significant reductions in mass and risk for beyond-LEO missions. This paper updates and expands on that research and quantifies the potential value of continued testing for future mission supportability. Frequentist and Bayesian models for evaluating, validating, and updating failure rate estimates are described, and are combined with supportability models to examine potential impacts of additional operating experience for future missions in terms of logistics mass reduction. The implications of these results for technology development, system design, and program planning are discussed along with lessons learned and recommendations for future system development. In the end, there is no simple answer to the question of how much testing is required, but the models described in this paper provide a way to evaluate the potential impacts of testing in order to inform test planning.


Andrew Owens, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA
Olivier de Weck, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
ICES511: Reliability for Space Based Systems
The 49th International Conference on Environmental Systems as held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA on 07 July 2019 through 11 July 2019.


Supportability, Reliability, Risk, Testing, Uncertainty, Bayesian, Spares