Indispensable Role of the Field Test Program in the Realization of Manned Aerospace System Reliability 640605
No aerospace system ever leaves the factory in flight-ready condition, hence a large number of program objectives remain to be achieved in the field test program -- and field testing consequently contributes a significant portion of the effort to establish engineering Confidence prior to launch. The Inherent Reliability of a system can be conserved at the launch site by enforcement of established reliability practices.
A general review of flight failure histories indicates that a significant percentage of failures could have been avoided by proper field test programs. Identification of failures and corrective action is a major concern of the field Reliability organization. The system in use on the Gemini Program encompasses failure data collection, analysis and evaluation, dissemination of information and direction for corrective action. A prime Gemini program objective is the development of a fully reliable man-rated launch vehicle system.
Since launch operations for a manned vehicle differ so much in exigency from missile operations, reliability and pilot safety play a dominant role in test operations. Flight success depends upon a testing philosophy which states that no defective vehicle will ever reach the lift-off stage if all the correct tests have been properly performed, the data properly evaluated and the necessary corrective measures properly incorporated.
Restrained firings are useful early in a new program to assure the quality of the assembled subsystems and to reveal any possible design deficiencies. The Gemini component test program revealed vibration and EEI environments as the principal sources of design problems.
The realization of manned, aerospace system Reliability calls for a strong technical organization in the field, coequal with and responsive to the requirements of the factory program organization.