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Estimating the Reliability of a Soyuz Spacecraft MissionOnce the US Space Shuttle retires in 2010, the Russian Soyuz Launcher and Soyuz Spacecraft will comprise the only means for crew transportation to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The U.S. Government and NASA have contracted for crew transportation services to the ISS with Russia. The resulting implications for the US space program including issues such as astronaut safety must be carefully considered. Are the astronauts and cosmonauts safer on the Soyuz than the Space Shuttle system? Is the Soyuz launch system more robust than the Space Shuttle? Is it safer to continue to fly the 30 year old Shuttle fleet for crew transportation and cargo resupply than the Soyuz? Should we extend the life of the Shuttle Program? How does the development of the Orion/Ares crew transportation system affect these decisions? The Soyuz launcher has been in operation for over 40 years. There have been only two loss of life incidents and two loss of mission incidents. Given that the most recent incident took place in 1983, how do we determine current reliability of the system? Do failures of unmanned Soyuz rockets impact the reliability of the currently operational man-rated launcher? Does the Soyuz exhibit characteristics that demonstrate reliability growth and how would that be reflected in future estimates of success? NASA s next manned rocket and spacecraft development project is currently underway. Though the projects ultimate goal is to return to the Moon and then to Mars, the launch vehicle and spacecraft s first mission will be for crew transportation to and from the ISS. The reliability targets are currently several times higher than the Shuttle and possibly even the Soyuz. Can these targets be compared to the reliability of the Soyuz to determine whether they are realistic and achievable? To help answer these questions this paper will explore how to estimate the reliability of the Soyuz Launcher/Spacecraft system, compare it to the Space Shuttle, and its potential impacts for the future of manned spaceflight. Specifically it will look at estimating the Loss of Mission (LOM) probability using historical data, reliability growth, and Probabilistic Risk Assessment techniques
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lutomski, Michael G.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Farnham, Steven J., II
(ARES Corp. Houston, TX, United States)
Grant, Warren C.
(ARES Corp. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Subject Category
Space Transportation And Safety
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
10th International Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management(Seattle, WA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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