Verification approach for human-rated space systems

Charlotte M. Pappageorge*, Mark Arend, Benjamin D. Herbert, G. Fitz Vernon, Darko Filipi, Kenneth J. Bocam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Orbital Sciences Corporation designed, built, and verified developmental flight test hardware intended for future use on human spaceflight missions that ranged in complexity from simple harnesses to advanced solid rocket motors. This paper recommends a comprehensive verification approach for human-rated space systems based on this experience.

Human spaceflight necessitates increased scrutiny by the certifying government authority and customer in comparison to unmanned space systems due to the risk to human life. As a result, verification of a human-rated design requires rigorous assessment and documentation far beyond a checklist-style compliance matrix common elsewhere in the aerospace industry. Verification documentation must also be clear enough to allow for correct understanding and interpretation by individuals who have not been intimately involved in the design process yet need to approve the flight worthiness of the vehicle.

Orbital Sciences used a verification method based verification approach for the developmental flight test hardware. As analyses and tests were completed, documentation was released that identified which requirements were verified by those events, either in part or in whole. This paper describes lessons learned and complications encountered with the verification method based approach. In particular, this approach necessitated that reviewers assess multiple verification documents before concluding that any individual requirement was verified. As a result, Orbital recommends and explains a requirements-based verification approach for human-rated space systems. In addition, the developmental program was treated as such during the requirement definition phase, but treated as a full-fledged human-rated space system during the verification phase. This experience highlights the importance of advanced detailed verification planning during requirements definition for human-rated space systems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplications of space technology for humanity
EditorsPM Bainum, AK Misra, Y Morita, Z Chi
Place of PublicationCalifornia, US
PublisherUnivelt Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9780877035626
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Event12th International Space Conference of Pacific-basin Societies (ISCOPS) - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 27 Jul 201030 Jul 2010

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)1081-6003


Conference12th International Space Conference of Pacific-basin Societies (ISCOPS)

Cite this

Pappageorge, C. M., Arend, M., Herbert, B. D., Vernon, G. F., Filipi, D., & Bocam, K. J. (2010). Verification approach for human-rated space systems. In PM. Bainum, AK. Misra, Y. Morita, & Z. Chi (Eds.), Applications of space technology for humanity (pp. 473-483). (Advances in the Astronautical Sciences; Vol. 138). California, US: Univelt Inc..