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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of October 29, 2014

Title 14Chapter IIISubchapter CPart 431 → Subpart C


Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
PART 431—LAUNCH AND REENTRY OF A REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE (RLV)


Subpart C—Safety Review and Approval for Launch and Reentry of a Reusable Launch Vehicle


Contents
§431.31   General.
§431.33   Safety organization.
§431.35   Acceptable reusable launch vehicle mission risk.
§431.37   Mission readiness.
§431.39   Mission rules, procedures, contingency plans, and checklists.
§431.41   Communications plan.
§431.43   Reusable launch vehicle mission operational requirements and restrictions.
§431.45   Mishap investigation plan and emergency response plan.
§431.47   Denial of safety approval.
§§431.48-431.50   [Reserved]

§431.31   General.

(a) The FAA conducts a safety review to determine whether an applicant is capable of launching an RLV and payload, if any, from a designated launch site, and reentering the RLV and payload, if any, to a designated reentry site or location, or otherwise landing it on Earth, without jeopardizing public health and safety and the safety of property.

(b) The FAA issues a safety approval to an RLV mission license applicant that satisfies the requirements of this Subpart. The FAA evaluates on an individual basis all public safety aspects of a proposed RLV mission to ensure they are sufficient to support safe conduct of the mission. A safety approval is part of the licensing record on which the FAA's licensing determination is based.

(c) The FAA advises an applicant, in writing, of any issue raised during a safety review that would impede issuance of a safety approval. The applicant may respond, in writing, or revise its license application.

§431.33   Safety organization.

(a) An applicant shall maintain a safety organization and document it by identifying lines of communication and approval authority for all mission decisions that may affect public safety. Lines of communication within the applicant's organization, between the applicant and the launch site, and between the applicant and the reentry site, shall be employed to ensure that personnel perform RLV mission operations in accordance with plans and procedures required by this subpart. Approval authority shall be employed to ensure compliance with terms and conditions stated in an RLV mission license and with the plans and procedures required by this subpart.

(b) An applicant must designate a person responsible for the conduct of all licensed RLV mission activities.

(c) An applicant shall designate by name, title, and qualifications, a qualified safety official authorized by the applicant to examine all aspects of the applicant's operations with respect to safety of RLV mission activities and to monitor independently compliance by vehicle safety operations personnel with the applicant's safety policies and procedures. The safety official shall report directly to the person responsible for an applicant's licensed RLV mission activities, who shall ensure that all of the safety official's concerns are addressed both before a mission is initiated and before reentry or descent flight of an RLV is initiated. The safety official is responsible for—

(1) Monitoring and evaluating operational dress rehearsals to ensure they are conducted in accordance with procedures required by §431.37(a)(4) and under §431.37(a)(1)(iv) to ensure the readiness of vehicle safety operations personnel to conduct a safe mission under nominal and non-nominal conditions; and

(2) Completing a mission readiness determination as required by §431.37 before an RLV mission is initiated. The safety official must monitor and report to the person responsible for the conduct of licensed RLV mission activities any non-compliance with procedures listed in §§431.37 and 431.43, or any representation contained in the application, and the readiness of the licensee to conduct mission operations in accordance with the license and this part. The safety official is responsible for compliance with §§431.37 and 431.43, and with representations contained in the application.

§431.35   Acceptable reusable launch vehicle mission risk.

(a) To obtain safety approval for an RLV mission, an applicant must demonstrate that the proposed mission does not exceed acceptable risk as defined in this subpart. For purposes of this section, the mission commences upon initiation of the launch phase of flight and consists of launch flight through orbital insertion of an RLV or vehicle stage or flight to outer space, whichever is applicable, and reentry or descent flight, and concludes upon landing on Earth of the RLV.

(b) Acceptable risk for a proposed mission is measured in terms of the expected average number of casualties (Ec).

(1) To obtain safety approval, an applicant shall demonstrate:

(i) For public risk, the risk level to the collective members of the public exposed to vehicle or vehicle debris impact hazards associated with a proposed mission does not exceed an expected average number of 0.00003 casualties per mission (or Ec criterion of 30 × 10−6) to members of the public from the applicant's proposed activity; and

(ii) For public risk, the risk level to an individual does not exceed .000001 per mission (or individual risk criterion of 1 × 10−6).

(2) [Reserved]

(c) To demonstrate compliance with acceptable risk criteria in this section, an applicant shall employ a system safety process to identify the hazards and assess the risks to public health and safety and the safety of property associated with the mission, including nominal and non-nominal operation and flight of the vehicle and payload, if any. An acceptable system safety analysis identifies and assesses the probability and consequences of any reasonably foreseeable hazardous event, and safety-critical system failures during launch flight or reentry that could result in a casualty to the public.

(d) As part of the demonstration required under paragraph (c) of this section, an applicant must—

(1) Identify and describe the structure of the RLV, including physical dimensions and weight;

(2) Identify and describe any hazardous materials, including radioactive materials, and their container on the RLV;

(3) Identify and describe safety-critical systems;

(4) Identify and describe all safety-critical failure modes and their consequences;

(5) Provide drawings and schematics for eachsafety-critical system identified under paragraph (d)(3) of this section;

(6) Provide a timeline identifying all safety-critical events;

(7) Provide data that verifies the risk elimination and mitigation measures resulting from the applicant's system safety analyses required by paragraph (c) of this section; and

(8) Provide flight trajectory analyses covering launch or ascent of the vehicle through orbital insertion and reentry or descent of the vehicle through landing, including its three-sigma dispersion.

[Docket No. FAA-1999-5535, 65 FR 56658, Sept. 19, 2000, as amended by Amdt. 431-2, 72 FR 17019, Apr. 6, 2007]

§431.37   Mission readiness.

(a) Mission readiness requirements. An applicant shall submit the following procedures for verifying mission readiness:

(1) Mission readiness review procedures that involve the applicant's vehicle safety operations personnel, and launch site and reentry site personnel involved in the mission. The procedures shall ensure a mission readiness review is conducted during which the designated individual responsible for the conduct of licensed activities under §431.33(b) is provided with the following information to make a judgment as to mission readiness—

(i) Readiness of the RLV including safety-critical systems and payload for launch and reentry flight;

(ii) Readiness of the launch site, personnel, and safety-related launch property and launch services to be provided by the launch site;

(iii) Readiness of the reentry site, personnel, and safety-related property and services for reentry flight and vehicle recovery;

(iv) Readiness of vehicle safety operations personnel to support mission flight, including results of dress rehearsals and simulations conducted in accordance with paragraph (a)(4) of this section;

(v) Mission rules and constraints, including contingency abort plans and procedures, if any, as required under §431.39;

(vi) Unresolved safety issues identified during the mission readiness review and plans for addressing them; and

(vii) Any additional safety information required by the individual designated under §431.33(b) to determine launch and reentry readiness.

(2) Procedures that ensure mission constraints, rules, contingency abort and emergency abort procedures are listed and consolidated in a safety directive or notebook approved by the person designated by the applicant under §431.33(b), the launch site operator, and the reentry site operator, if any;

(3) Procedures that ensure currency and consistency of licensee, launch site operator, and reentry site operator checklists;

(4) Dress rehearsal procedures that—

(i) Ensure crew readiness under nominal and non-nominal flight conditions;

(ii) Contain criteria for determining whether to dispense with or add one or more dress rehearsals; and

(iii) Verify currency and consistency of licensee, launch site operator, and reentry site operator checklists; and

(5) Procedures for ensuring the licensee's vehicle safety operations personnel adhere to crew rest rules of this part.

(b) [Reserved]

§431.39   Mission rules, procedures, contingency plans, and checklists.

(a) An applicant shall submit mission rules, procedures, checklists, emergency plans, and contingency abort plans, if any, that ensure safe conduct of mission operations during nominal and non-nominal vehicle flight.

(b) Mission rules, procedures, checklists, emergency plans, and contingency abort plans must be contained in a safety directive, notebook, or other compilation that is approved by the safety official designated under §431.33(c) and concurred in by the launch site operator and reentry site operator, if any.

(c) Vehicle safety operations personnel must have current and consistent mission checklists.

§431.41   Communications plan.

(a) An applicant shall submit a plan providing vehicle safety operations personnel communications procedures during the mission. Procedures for effective issuance and communication of safety-critical information during the mission shall include hold/resume, go/no go, contingency abort, if any, and emergency abort commands by vehicle safety operations personnel. The communications plan shall describe the authority of vehicle safety operations personnel, by individual or position title, to issue these commands. The communications plan shall ensure that—

(1) Communication networks are assigned so that personnel identified under this section have direct access to real-time, safety-critical information required for making decisions and issuing commands;

(2) Personnel identified under this section monitor a common intercom channel for safety-critical communications during launch and reentry;

(3) A protocol is established for utilizing defined radio communications terminology; and

(4) Communications affecting the safety of the mission are recorded in a manner that accurately reflects communications made on individual channels, synchronized time coding, and sequence of communications.

(b) An applicant shall submit procedures to ensure that licensee and reentry site personnel, if any, receive a copy of the communications plan required by this section and that the reentry site operator, if any, concurs with the communications plan.

§431.43   Reusable launch vehicle mission operational requirements and restrictions.

(a) An applicant for RLV mission safety approval shall submit procedures—

(1) That ensure RLV mission risks do not exceed the criteria set forth in §431.35 for nominal and non-nominal operations;

(2) That ensure conformance with the system safety process and associated hazard identification and risk assessment required under §431.35(c);

(3) That ensure conformance with operational restrictions listed in paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section;

(4) To monitor and verify the status of RLV safety-critical systems sufficiently before enabling both launch and reentry flight to ensure public safety and during mission flight unless technically infeasible; and

(5) For human activation or initiation of a flight safety system that safely aborts the launch of an RLV if the vehicle is not operating within approved mission parameters and the vehicle poses risk to public health and safety and the safety of property in excess of acceptable flight risk as defined in §431.35.

(b) To satisfy risk criteria set forth in §431.35(b)(1), an applicant for RLV mission safety approval shall identify suitable and attainable locations for nominal landing and vehicle staging impact or landing, if any. An application shall identify such locations for a contingency abort if necessary to satisfy risk criteria contained in §431.35(b)(1) during launch of an RLV. A nominal landing, vehicle staging impact and contingency abort location are suitable for launch or reentry if—

(1) For any vehicle or vehicle stage, the area of the predicted three-sigma dispersion of the vehicle or vehicle stage can be wholly contained within the designated location; and

(2) The location is of sufficient size to contain landing impacts, including debris dispersion upon impact and any toxic release.

(c) For an RLV mission—

(1) A collision avoidance analysis shall be performed in order to maintain at least a 200-kilometer separation from any inhabitable orbiting object during launch and reentry. The analysis shall address:

(i) For launch, closures in a planned launch window for ascent to outer space or, for an orbital RLV, to initial orbit through at least one complete orbit;

(ii) For reentry, the reentry trajectory;

(iii) Expansions of the closure period by subtracting 15 seconds from the closure start-time and adding 15 seconds to the closure end-time for each sequential 90 minutes elapsed time period, or portion there of, beginning at the time the state vectors of the orbiting objects were determined;

(2) The projected instantaneous impact point (IIP) of the vehicle shall not have substantial dwell time over densely populated areas during any segment of mission flight;

(3) There will be no unplanned physical contact between the vehicle or its components and payload after payload separation and debris generation will not result from conversion of energy sources into energy that fragments the vehicle or its payload. Energy sources include, but are not limited to, chemical, pneumatic, and kinetic energy; and

(4) Vehicle safety operations personnel shall adhere to the following work and rest standards:

(i) A maximum 12-hour work shift with at least 8 hours of rest after 12 hours of work, preceding initiation of an RLV reentry mission or during the conduct of a mission;

(ii) A maximum of 60 hours worked in the 7 days, preceding initiation of an RLV mission;

(iii) A maximum of 14 consecutive work days; and

(iv) A minimum 48-hour rest period after 5 consecutive days of 12-hour shifts.

(d) In addition to requirements of paragraph (c) of this section, any unproven RLV may only be operated so that during any portion of flight—

(1) The projected instantaneous impact point (IIP) of the vehicle does not have substantial dwell time over populated areas; or

(2) The expected average number of casualties to members of the public does not exceed 30 × 10−6 (Ec ≤30 × 10−6) given a probability of vehicle failure equal to 1 (pf=1) at any time the IIP is over a populated area;

(e) Any RLV that enters Earth orbit may only be operated such that the vehicle operator is able to—

(1) Monitor and verify the status of safety-critical systems before enabling reentry flight to assure the vehicle can reenter safely to Earth; and

(2) Issue a command enabling reentry flight of the vehicle. Reentry flight cannot be initiated autonomously under nominal circumstances without prior enable.

§431.45   Mishap investigation plan and emergency response plan.

(a) Mishap investigation plan and emergency response plan. An applicant shall submit a mishap investigation plan (MIP) containing the applicant's procedures for reporting and responding to launch and reentry accidents, launch and reentry incidents, or other mishaps, as defined in §401.5 of this chapter, that occur during the conduct of an RLV mission. An acceptable MIP satisfies the requirements of paragraphs (b)-(d) of this section. An applicant shall also submit an emergency response plan (ERP) that contains procedures for informing the affected public of a planned RLV mission. An acceptable ERP satisfies the requirements of paragraph (e) of this section. The MIP and ERP shall be signed by an individual authorized to sign and certify the application in accordance with §413.7(c) of this chapter, the person responsible for the conduct of all licensed RLV mission activities designated under §431.33(b) of this subpart, and the safety official designated under §431.33(c) of this subpart.

(b) Report requirements. A MIP shall provide for—

(1) Immediate notification to the FAA Washington Operations Center in case of a launch or reentry accident, launch or reentry incident, or a mishap that involves a fatality or serious injury (as defined in 49 CFR 830.2);

(2) Notification within 24 hours to the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation in the event of a mishap that does not involve a fatality or serious injury, as defined in 49 CFR 830.2; and

(3) Submission of a written preliminary report to the FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation in the event of a launch accident or launch incident occurring in the conduct of an RLV mission, or reentry accident or reentry incident, occurring in the conduct of an RLV mission, within 5 days of the event. The report shall identify the event as either a launch or reentry accident or incident and must include the following information:

(i) Date and time of occurrence;

(ii) Description of the event and sequence of events leading to the accident or incident, to the extent known;

(iii) Intended and actual location of launch and reentry or other landing on Earth;

(iv) Identification of the vehicle;

(v) Identification of the payload, if applicable;

(vi) Number and general description of any fatalities and injuries;

(vii) Property damage, if any, and an estimate of its value;

(viii) Identification of hazardous materials, as defined in §401.5 of this chapter, involved in the event, whether on the vehicle, payload, or on the ground;

(ix) Action taken by any person to contain the consequences of the event;

(x) Weather conditions at the time of the event; and

(xi) Potential consequences for other vehicles or systems of similar type and proposed operations.

(c) Response plan. A MIP must contain procedures to—

(1) Ensure the consequences of a launch accident, launch incident, reentry accident, reentry incident, or other mishap occurring in the conduct of an RLV mission are contained and minimized;

(2) Ensure data and physical evidence are preserved;

(3) Require the licensee to report and to cooperate with FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board investigations and designate one or more points of contact for the FAA or NTSB; and;

(4) Require the licensee to identify and adopt preventive measures for avoiding recurrence of the event.

(d) Investigation plan. A MIP shall contain—

(1) Procedures for investigating the cause of an event described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section;

(2) Procedures for reporting investigation results to the FAA;

(3) Delineated responsibilities, including reporting responsibilities, for personnel assigned to conduct investigations and for any unrelated entities retained by the licensee to conduct or participate in investigations.

(e) Emergency response plan. An ERP shall provide for—

(1) Notification to local officials in the event of an off-site or unplanned landing so that vehicle recovery can be conducted safely and effectively and with minimal risk to public safety. The plan must provide for the quick dissemination of up to date information to the public, and for doing so in advance of reentry or other landing on Earth to the extent practicable; and

(2) A public information dissemination plan for informing the potentially affected public, in laymen's terms and in advance of a planned reentry, of the estimated date, time and landing location for the reentry activity.

§431.47   Denial of safety approval.

The FAA notifies an applicant, in writing, if the FAA has denied safety approval for an RLV mission license application. The notice states the reasons for the FAA's determination. The applicant may respond to the reasons for the determination and request reconsideration.

§§431.48-431.50   [Reserved]



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