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Shuttle Risk Progression: Use of the Shuttle Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) to Show Reliability GrowthIt is important to the Space Shuttle Program (SSP), as well as future manned spaceflight programs, to understand the early mission risk and progression of risk as the program gains insights into the integrated vehicle through flight. The risk progression is important to the SSP as part of the documentation of lessons learned. The risk progression is important to future programs to understand reliability growth and the first flight risk. This analysis uses the knowledge gained from 30 years of operational flights and the current Shuttle PRA to calculate the risk of Loss of Crew and Vehicle (LOCV) at significant milestones beginning with the first flight. Key flights were evaluated based upon historical events and significant re-designs. The results indicated that the Shuttle risk tends to follow a step function as opposed to following a traditional reliability growth pattern where risk exponentially improves with each flight. In addition, it shows that risk can increase due to trading safety margin for increased performance or due to external events. Due to the risk drivers not being addressed, the risk did not improve appreciably during the first 25 flights. It was only after significant events occurred such as Challenger and Columbia, where the risk drivers were apparent, that risk was significantly improved. In addition, this paper will show that the SSP has reduced the risk of LOCV by almost an order of magnitude. It is easy to look back afte r 30 years and point to risks that are now obvious, however; the key is to use this knowledge to benefit other programs which are in their infancy stages. One lesson learned from the SSP is understanding risk drivers are essential in order to considerably reduce risk. This will enable the new program to focus time and resources on identifying and reducing the significant risks. A comprehensive PRA, similar to that of the Shuttle PRA, is an effective tool quantifying risk drivers if support from all of the stakeholders is given.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hamlin, Teri L.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2011
Subject Category
Space Transportation And Safety
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Space 2011
Location: Long Beach, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: September 26, 2011
End Date: September 29, 2011
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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