Human-rating certification, previously known as man-rating, is the certification of a spacecraft or launch vehicle as capable of safely transporting humans. There is no one particular standard for human-rating a spacecraft or launch vehicle, and the various entities that launch or plan to launch such spacecraft specify requirements for their particular systems to be human rated.
One entity that applies human rating is the US government civilian space agency, NASA. NASA's human-rating requires not just that a system be designed to be tolerant of failure and to protect the crew even if unrecoverable failure occurs, but also that astronauts aboard a human-rated spacecraft have some control over it. This set of technical requirements and the associated certification process for crewed space systems are in addition to the standards and requirements for all of NASA's space flight programs.
Commercial Crew Program
In November 2011, Ed Mango, the agency head of the NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP), gave an extended interview on the new NASA requirements for human rating of spacecraft that will fly to the International Space Station (ISS).
The NASA CCP human-rating standards require that the probability of a loss on ascent not exceed 1 in 500, and that the probability of a loss on descent not exceed 1 in 500. The overall mission loss risk, which includes vehicle risk from micrometeorites and orbital debris while in orbit for up to 210 days, is required to be no more than 1 in 270. Maximum sustained acceleration is limited to 3 g.
The development of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station pre-dates the NASA human-rating requirements. After the Challenger and Columbia accidents, the criteria used by NASA for human-rating spacecraft were made more stringent.
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) published[when?] a paper submitted to AIAA detailing the modifications to its Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles that would be needed to conform to NASA Standard 8705.2B. ULA has since been awarded $6.7 million under NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program for development of an Emergency Detection System, one of the final pieces that would be needed to make these launchers suitable for human spaceflight.
SpaceX is developing Dragon 2, launched on a Falcon 9 rocket, to deliver crew to the ISS. Dragon 2 made its first uncrewed test flight in March 2019, a crewed flight is planned not earlier than late 2019.
The Russian state corporation Roscosmos, Indian space agency ISRO, Chinese space agency CNSA, and each private spaceflight system builder typically sets up their own specific criteria to be met before carrying humans on any space transport system.
- "Human Rating Requirements for Space Systems". NASA. 10 July 2017.
Chaikin, Andrew (2011-11-16). "Certified Safe: Planning to operate a taxi service for NASA astronauts? Here's what's required". Air & Space Smithsonian. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
we've separated [the “loss of crew” criteria] into what you need for ascent and what you need for entry. For ascent it’s 1 in 500, and independently for entry it’s 1 in 500. ... The probability for the mission itself is 1 in 270. That is an overall number. That’s loss of crew for the entire mission profile, including ascent, on-orbit, and entry. The thing that drives the 1 in 270 is really micrometeorites and orbital debris ... whatever things that are in space that you can collide with. So that’s what drops that number down, because you’ve got to look at the 210 days, the fact that your heat shield or something might be exposed to whatever that debris is for that period of time. NASA looks at Loss of Vehicle the same as Loss of Crew. If the vehicle is damaged and it may not be detected prior to de-orbit, then you have loss of crew.'
- "Atlas and Delta Capabilities to Launch Crew to Low Earth Orbit" (PDF). United Launch Alliance. n.d. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- "NASA and ULA confirm Atlas V baseline for human rated launches". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
- Gebhardt, Chris. "Station mission planning reveals new target Commercial Crew launch dates". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- "Suits from Vadodara, parachutes from Agra: Inside ISRO's plan to launch India's first astronauts". The Economic Times. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.