Innovation in the design and development of a commercial flight termination system
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
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With the ramp up of commercial spaceflight over the last decade with the assistance of the US Government and NASA, commercial spaceflight companies such as Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Orbital Sciences have taken significant strides in reducing the overall cost of space travel. The overall cost per launch goes far beyond the actual cost of the materials and labor associated with each launch vehicle, and must include all the political, environmental and social costs, which often amount to more than the actual cost of the vehicle itself. The main focus of my thesis is the Flight Termination System (FTS) which is the system used to terminate the flight of the launch vehicle in the event the vehicle veers off course or experiences any anomalies, which would impede its mission and cause a threat to human assets. Because of my work as the lead engineer of the FTS system at SpaceX, this thesis will mainly cover the system used at SpaceX. The FTS system is unique in that the approval of the system is as political and social as it is technical. Systems engineering is applied throughout the process of architecting, designing, testing, and manufacturing, where all stakeholders have a part in the success of each step of the product design. The key to the success of SpaceX lies in innovation, and as this thesis outlines, the FTS system has many innovative products and processes in place, including the establishment of many key relationships with stakeholders.
Thesis (S.M. in Engineering and Management)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, June 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. "December 2012."Includes bibliographical references (page 89).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Systems Division.