Dec. 12, 2012 NASA's Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program recently completed an important System Requirements Review/System Definition Review (SRR/SDR) as part of planning for future operations at the agency's Kennedy Space Center. The reviews help establish the groundwork needed to launch NASA's Orion spacecraft atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket beginning in 2017.
The SRR/SDR began July 11, with a kickoff meeting in which GSDO presented a summary of its program planning, requirements, architecture and operations documentation required for the milestone. The goal was to determine the center's infrastructure needs for future programs and establish work plans for the preliminary design phase.
"This GSDO team has done superb work in achieving this important milestone," said Pepper Phillips, program manager of Kennedy's GSDO Program Office. "This thorough review has validated that our baseline architecture is sound and aligns with the agency's exploration objectives."
The GSDO Program is determining what systems and facilities will be required to support launching SLS with Orion atop it from Kennedy. Orion is NASA's multi-purpose crew vehicle that will provide a new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. SLS is a powerful new rocket in development that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before.
"Our mission is to ensure we can process and launch the next generation of launch vehicles and spacecraft," said Tammy Annis, SRR/SDR lead in GSDO. "To meet this goal we need to develop the ground systems, infrastructure and operational approaches to sustain that mission."
The 37-member board reviewed reports on products such as Kennedy's future infrastructure needs, including estimates on cost, schedule and technical data.
"The teams have developed 42 products of which 16 were reviewed during the SRR/SDR process," said Greg Horvath, division chief in GSDO Program Integration.
"These reports included studies by teams that focused on program-level integration, vehicle integration and functional program requirements," he said.
The review board includes representatives from NASA Headquarters, the SLS and Orion Programs, mission operations, the astronaut office and Kennedy intuitional organizations.
GSDO teams specialize in multiple areas of development and operations at Kennedy. The current focus is on establishing program requirements, architectures and operations planning.
The Vehicle Integration and Launch team researches the equipment, management and operations required to safely attach a spacecraft to a rocket, move the launch vehicle to the pad and successfully send it into space.
The Offline Processing and Integration Team is developing ways to process the Orion spacecraft, rocket stages and the launch abort system before they are assembled into one vehicle.
Another group is modernizing the Command, Control, Communications and Range Systems involved in launching astronauts into space. In addition to bringing computers, tracking systems and other networks up-to-date, the team is creating systems that can manage several different kinds of spacecraft and rockets.
Unlike previous work focusing on a single kind of launch vehicle, such as the Saturn V rocket or space shuttle, engineers and managers in GSDO are preparing infrastructure to support several different kinds of spacecraft and rockets that are in development.
"Our focus on this review is the ground infrastructure of Orion and SLS," Horvath said. "However, we are continuing to evaluate strategic investment opportunities that will enable us to best align the unique capabilities of the Kennedy Space Center with commercial space pursuits as those plans mature."
Horvath explained that is important for the GSDO, SLS and Orion Programs to work closely together so that they all get to the planned first launch in 2017.
"We're focusing on building ground systems with interfaces to flight vehicles," he said. "Orion's systems are reasonably mature, with hardware already here at Kennedy. The SLS design is less mature at this stage, so we have to continue discussions with the people in Flight Systems as we design the integration facilities and mobile launcher umbilical connecting points between ground systems and the rocket."
Tim Honeycutt, the Technical Management branch chief in GSDO Program Integration, says that he is pleased with progress so far.
"We've determined what the issues are and we're developing a good strategy to mitigate them," he said. "It positions us well as we move forward." The next step, the Preliminary Design Review, begins in November 2013.
"That review will allow us to evaluate preliminary designs of new systems here at Kennedy and better establish where we need to make prudent modifications to existing systems," Honeycutt said.
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