Once developed and demonstrated our Autonomous Flight Safety and Inference Engine Systems (AFSIE) will radically reduce range and operations costs and provide a commercial device that NASA can use for both Launch Vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Systems. Our AFSIE system will provide the Nano/Micro Satellite Launch Vehicle community and NASA with an affordable, reliable low cost alternative to the current command destruct systems. The use of an automated flight safety system will allow more responsive launches, significantly reducing the time required for launch preparation. Our Inference Engine monitors navigation and vehicle condition sensors to detect anomalous conditions and predict fault conditions that will result in a violation of the safe flight rules. This robust module system capability is applicable to a broad spectrum of NanoLauncher and Unmanned Systems. Commercial production of these units will enable NASA to improve the frequency of Nano and Micro Satellite launches and reduce the lead time.
Our AFSEI system is applicable to multiple vehicle types that may operate in the National Airspace System (NAS) or at a federal range that is required to have a Flight Safety System (FSS). The FAA's14 CFR Chapter III governs the NAS requirements; RCC 319 governs the federal range requirements; and AFI 91-710 and 91-712 have additional requirements associated with flights from Air Force Space Command's Eastern and Western Ranges. The documented autonomy, redundancy, precision and implicit cost requirements currently differ greatly by vehicle type and purpose, so the inherent software and hardware modularity of our AFSIE system will support the broad application spectrum. Further, we wish to develop and qualify a future modification of AFSIE that is able to support vehicle GNC functions Autonomous Flight Safety and Guidance System (AFSGS), with options for providing navigation services via electrically-isolated communications, or directly providing GNC services from AC-AFSS. The vehicles that might fly an AFSEI include, but are not limited to, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), sounding rockets, Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs) and Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs). Per the CFR, the Flight Safety System (FSS) may result in the following actions: flight termination (i.e. mid-flight destruct); thrust termination where the vehicle glides to a safe landing (UAS, RLV) or crashes into an uninhabited region, or even a flight trajectory modification to an alternate safe landing site.