Shuttle Fleet Operations

A Simulation Analysis

by David Leinweber

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This Note documents a two-part analysis of the reliability of the Space Transportation System (STS). The first part is a statistical examination of the inherent bounds on reliability prediction based on accumulated mission experience as the shuttle program evolves. The results of this analysis suggest that it will take a long history of successes to firmly establish a high shuttle reliability, and that, therefore, some contingency provisions should be retained during the early part of the program at least. The second phase of the analysis is aimed at gaining some insight into operational consequences of less than perfect reliability. This analysis suggests that the risks from the uncertainties surrounding loss or retirement of orbiters, stand-down periods, and delays in refurbishment and turnaround can be reduced by supplementing the four-orbiter STS fleet with alternative launch systems and/or additional orbiters to minimize potential loss of access to space.

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