Space Systems Command recently awarded contracts to SpaceX and ULA for 12 National Security Space Launch (NSSL) missions — six for each, scheduled for Fiscal Year 2025. This news explains why USSF's Space Launch Squadrons (SLS) continually seek to enhance their data infrastructure to conduct thorough mission assurance as the launch cadence YoY increases.
Having been privileged to collaborate with the 5 SLS Falcon Tech Team, providing mission assurance for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, I've recently embarked on a new project for the past few months — developing the ETL pipeline for the Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle processing data.
My teammates and I have recently wrapped up a series of customer meetings in Los Angeles with the Space Force's Vulcan Audits and Hardware Review team. The discussions mainly included LOE vectoring, knowledge sharing, and working sessions. It was a great experience to dive deeper into the intricacy of launch vehicle processing and brainstorm strategies to demystify the interconnections of vehicle configuration changes and their consequent effectivity. Engaging with military leadership in these discussions added a unique dimension to our understanding that plays a crucial role in developing a great product.
For those unfamiliar with mission assurance and why it's essential in the space launch industry or what kind of data we deal with, I'll describe it below.
Mission assurance in the space launch industry is a comprehensive process that ensures the success of a launch mission from start to finish. Our work primarily focuses on the launch vehicle processing side of things. This means that we are intimately involved with auditing the work of companies like SpaceX and (ULA), the two biggest commercial entities in the space launch industry.
Space Force's responsibility involves meticulously verifying and cross-checking details in these rockets' assembly and pre-launch process. They ensure everything is nominal, i.e., working according to predefined standards and specifications.
Our team is helping employ a data-driven approach to support Space Force's operations by leveraging statistics methods to identify any abnormalities in the processes or pinpoint areas of potentially high risk. For instance, patterns in the data can alert us to a recurring problem with a particular part or system in the rocket or a trend that suggests an increased likelihood of a specific issue arising.
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