NASA Range Flight Safety Systems



Provides a means of preventing a launch or aeronautical vehicle and its hazards, including any payload hazards, from reaching any populated or other protected area in the event of a vehicle failure.

Flight Termination System (FTS)Overview - Flight Safety Systems
  • A capability designed, tested and incorporated into vehicles that provides for the independent and deliberate termination of an errant or erratic vehicle
  • Required for each propulsive stage
  • Specific design dependent on type of vehicle and mission
Tracking System
  • Must provide continuous vehicle position and status during launch and entry to the point where the public is no longer at risk
  • Two valid and independent data sources must be provided (e.g. 2 radars, 1 radar and telemetry, 1 radar and optics, etc.)
Telemetry System
  • Must provide continuous flight safety related data during pre-launch operations, lift-off and throughout the time that the flight safety system is required to protect public areas
  • A telemetry receiving system must have the capacity to acquire, store, process, and provide real-time data to the RSO for the purpose of supporting a flight termination decision
Recovery System (applies to UAVs and reusable vehicles)
  • Saves or preserves the flight vehicle in the event of a malfunction
  • Not a FTS – must be independent of the FTS
  • Can be considered as risk mitigation and factor into the safety risk assessment