ASTM’s New Commercial Spaceflight Standard Supports Safety of Suborbital Vehicles

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (ASTM PR) — A new standard developed by ASTM International’s commercial spaceflight committee (F47) establishes a failure tolerance for suborbital vehicles specific to situations of occupant safety.

Failure tolerance, also known as fault tolerance, is the ability of a system to continue satisfying safety or operational objectives in the event one or more components fail.

“Failure tolerance provides a protective measure against inevitable uncertainties in spaceflight,” says ASTM International member Andrew Lake. “The new standard helps provide the framework for consistent occupant safety approaches across original equipment manufacturers and suppliers.”

According to Lake, director of system safety and reliability engineering for Blue Origin, the standard also helps system designers and manufacturers evaluate the effectiveness of design solutions to meet occupant safety objectives.

“The new standard provides an objectives-driven approach to safety, rather than a prescriptive approach,” says Lake, “providing more room for innovative solutions without compromising safety.”

Lake notes the standard (F3479) provides a view of failure tolerance that includes expectations for system safety engineering, human error tolerance, and single points of failure.

For more on how ASTM International’s commercial space flight committee standards will contribute to the future of space tourism, watch the video here.

About ASTM Committee F47

ASTM Committee F47 on Commercial Spaceflight was formed in 2016 as a result of the privatization and commercialization of spaceflight. Additionally, as the environment evolves both in the private and public sector, industry is utilizing ASTM’s neutral forum for developing safety and quality standards with recommended practices which would best position itself for any future regulatory requirement as well as allowing for innovation in this progressing area.

The Committee meets three times a year, with about 30 members attending 1 to 2 days of technical meetings in conjunction with industry conferences. F47 has 5 technical subcommittees that develop and maintain standards. Information on this subcommittee structure and F47’s portfolio of approved standards and Work Items under development are available from the List of Subcommittees and Standards. These standards have and continue to play a preeminent role in all aspects of aerospace personnel education, training, qualifications and certifications.