Author Topic: Dedicated commercial pilots  (Read 2541 times)

Offline kirghizstan

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Dedicated commercial pilots
« on: 08/07/2012 08:28 pm »
Would it make more sense if each of the commercial crew companies had their own pilots and the only thing NASA does is hire company to transfer ISS crew members.  If this is already the plan then stop reading now.  To use the analogy it is like renting a limo for a wedding but making one of the groomsmen or bridesmaids drive. 

The Astros on ISS would need landing training in case of emergencies how to handle the transfer of crews but still it would seem to make more sense.  The issue is ISS would have to temporarily handle crews of 10 if you were to be transferring off 3 Astros and the pilot to return home.

Offline erioladastra

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Re: Dedicated commercial pilots
« Reply #1 on: 08/07/2012 08:38 pm »
Would it make more sense if each of the commercial crew companies had their own pilots and the only thing NASA does is hire company to transfer ISS crew members.  If this is already the plan then stop reading now.  To use the analogy it is like renting a limo for a wedding but making one of the groomsmen or bridesmaids drive. 

The Astros on ISS would need landing training in case of emergencies how to handle the transfer of crews but still it would seem to make more sense.  The issue is ISS would have to temporarily handle crews of 10 if you were to be transferring off 3 Astros and the pilot to return home.

I believe that was SNC's proposal but it was not very practical in my opinion.  Pilot flies up new crew, stays for the handover (is essentially an extra person now) and flies the old crew home.  But wait, the VV has to be a lifeboat so the ISS crew can leave any time.  So they either have to have a trained pilot (so what have you gained) or it is a totally automatic flight back (which is feasible, but as all the companies have proposed auto return and the astronauts have fought tooth and nail to be able to manually fly the thing).  So i don't see it happening. 

Offline simonbp

Re: Dedicated commercial pilots
« Reply #2 on: 08/07/2012 09:13 pm »
I disagree, from the standpoint that it would be unnecessarily complex to train lots of different crew in the operations of many different spacecraft with potentially changing procedures. A trained operator/pilot for each ferry flight would probably be both safer and cheaper. Plus, all proposed commercial crew vehicles have more capacity than NASA really needs, so it's not like they are loosing crew carrying capacity.

In the lifeboat case, the vehicle would be run as automatically as possible, so no real training should be needed beyond how to close the hatch and strap yourself in.

But then one commercial operator might do it one way and another another way, that's the beauty of the system.

Offline erioladastra

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Re: Dedicated commercial pilots
« Reply #3 on: 08/08/2012 02:09 am »
I disagree, from the standpoint that it would be unnecessarily complex to train lots of different crew in the operations of many different spacecraft with potentially changing procedures. A trained operator/pilot for each ferry flight would probably be both safer and cheaper. Plus, all proposed commercial crew vehicles have more capacity than NASA really needs, so it's not like they are loosing crew carrying capacity.

In the lifeboat case, the vehicle would be run as automatically as possible, so no real training should be needed beyond how to close the hatch and strap yourself in.

But then one commercial operator might do it one way and another another way, that's the beauty of the system.

I didnt say anything about this being simpler.  it is just the reality.  You are correct the vehicle will be autonomous.  But the reality is that the crew will still need to be able to pilot it in case, period.  So you will have to do that training.  Therefore, since that is how NASA operates, a dedicated pilot will then add complexity.

Offline erioladastra

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Re: Dedicated commercial pilots
« Reply #4 on: 08/08/2012 02:10 am »
I disagree, from the standpoint that it would be unnecessarily complex to train lots of different crew in the operations of many different spacecraft with potentially changing procedures. A trained operator/pilot for each ferry flight would probably be both safer and cheaper. Plus, all proposed commercial crew vehicles have more capacity than NASA really needs, so it's not like they are loosing crew carrying capacity.

In the lifeboat case, the vehicle would be run as automatically as possible, so no real training should be needed beyond how to close the hatch and strap yourself in.

But then one commercial operator might do it one way and another another way, that's the beauty of the system.

No, erioladastra is right. It follows from the overall goals and constraints of the system:

1) The Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is intended to replace Soyuz; that is, once CCP is available, Congress will not pay Russia for USOS crewmembers to ride on Soyuz.

2) There are only two docking ports for CCP vehicles on ISS: the two PMAs, retrofitted with NDS.

3) There must always be USOS crewmembers on ISS, which means that a new CCP vehicle must arrive before the old one leaves.

4) Non-ISS crewmembers on CCP vehicles (either dedicated pilots or tourists) must be short-duration. That is, they can't stay for the full expedition. They ride up in the new CCP vehicle and ride down in the old one.

5) NASA wants multiple CCP providers, so the new CCP vehicle is not guaranteed to be the same type as the old one. You might have a Dragon up there with the current crew and a CST-100 (or DC) carrying the next crew.

6) Emergency return may be automatic, but the Soyuz experience tells us that crews must be trained for operations (such as port-swaps) that may not be foreseen by the designers of the automatic system.

Put all that together and I really don't see a way around this conclusion: either 1) dedicated commercial pilots must either be full expedition crewmembers, or 2) they must be cross-rated in competitors' vehicles, or 3) one of the seats on each vehicle would have to be given over to a competitor's pilot to ride the old vehicle down. (e.g. if there's a CST-100 docked to ISS and a DC is flying up to replace it, the DC would have the DC pilot in seat 1, the ISS expedition crew in seats 2-5, and a CST-100 pilot dead-heading in seat 6 to fly the CST-100 back down. On the return trip, the DC pilot would be dead-heading in seat 6 of the CST-100).

I really don't see NASA buying into the first concept (they'd have to give in on #4), or the commercial crew companies buying into the second concept, or *anybody* buying into the third concept (who pays for the dead-heading pilot's seat?).

I think, in my personal opinion, it is extremely unlikely that NASA will be buying services from 2 providers.    That will add cost to training (crews will need training on TWO different vehicles).  But more practicality, there won't be the funds after iCAP for more than one, no mater what CCP policy is.

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