Millennium Software Plays Critical Role in First Autonomous Flight Safety Space Launch
Arlington, VA (March 3, 2017) - On the 19th of February, SpaceX successfully launched its space station resupply mission CRS-10 using an on-board, autonomous flight termination system called Autonomous Flight Safety System (AFSS). Millennium Engineering and Integration Company (Millennium), headquartered in Arlington VA, developed key software for this historic space launch, the first ever to rely exclusively on an AFSS. Millennium’s Flight Analyst Workstation Software (FAWS) was used to define and encode mission rules to independently assess the flight safety rules and associated mission data load for the vehicle. FAWS simulations, using the government provided Core Autonomous Safety Software (CASS), demonstrated that the mission data load reflects the mission flight rules established to protect public safety. Launched from Kennedy Space Center pad LC-39A, this mission marks the beginning of a new era in space flight safety as vehicles move away from ground-based, manually commanded Flight Termination Systems (FTS) in favor of AFSS. The use of autonomous safety systems will significantly lower the costs associated with space launch operations while ensuring the safety of people and resources.
Millennium’s FAWS together with the government’s AFSS core safety software provides a safe and cost-effective means for launch providers, range operators, and the US Government to ensure safety during flight by reducing the need for aging range infrastructure and instrumentation, while continuing to provide safe and reliable access to space as we enter a new era in spaceflight. Patrick Murphy, CEO of Millennium stated, "We are proud to continue developing and delivering solutions to the Government and industry to provide safe, flexible access to space for both civilian and military mission. With FAWS, launch vehicle operators are able to ensure safe and reliable launch operations from any launch range while significantly lowering the cost of space flight."
Millennium’s FAWS software was developed at Millennium’s Product Development Center (PDC) in Melbourne, FL, to allow Safety personnel to generate the Flight Safety rules for an AFSS. The FAWS software has been officially validated for operational use by the USAF at both Cape Canaveral AFS and Vandenberg AFB. FAWS user’s evaluation for operational use included robust system testing and validation of the rules prior to operation. The public/private partnership between commercial industry and the US Government (USAF and NASA safety personnel) has carefully managed the development of AFSS.