Nebula Public Library

The knowledge bank of ESA’s R&D programmes

Next Generation Flight Termination Systems for Launchers

Programme Reference
Prime Contractor
Start Date
End Date
Next Generation Flight Termination Systems for Launchers

Design, simulation, and functional verification of an advanced Flight Termination System (FTS) for launchers

;Launchers Flight Termination Systems are a vital part of launch operations and ensure the safety of both humans on the ground and astronauts onboard the rocket. In the event of an misbehaved flight, a Flight Termination System (FTS) renders each power stage and propulsion system non-propulsive. ;;Traditionally, a flight termination infrastructure uses a mixed of flight and ground-based subsystems that involve radar stations, telemetry antennas, command antennas and a human making the decisions to terminate a mission in the event of a launch vehicle drifting from a safe flight path or its malfunction. ;;The flight termination infrastructure (flight and ground) is dependent from the Launch Authority and the regulatory framework of the Launching State. This imposes a good number of requirements for the flight termination system. ;This activity encompasses the following tasks:- Analysis of the current FTS regulatory frameworks in place at the ESA Member States and the comparison with regulatory frameworks with other non-European launch states. This task shall gather the information of the regulatory framework as inputs requirements for the next task. ;- Analysis of current flight termination systems functionalities, placing emphasis on complexity, drawbacks, and operational cost. This task will provide as well the requirements of the FTS system: functional, operational, interface, human factors, environment, etc. - Design of the algorithms of the flight system. The algorithms of the FTS shall cover initialization, launcher localization, and launcher state and mode monitoring. The algorithms of the launcher state and mode monitoring shall be designed with the aim to predict upcoming problems, deviations, or malfunctions in the flight of the launcher. Special attention shall be placed on new algorithms to detect and predict malfunctions in the propulsion system, structural deformations or ruptures, and deviations from the nominal flight sequence (modes, separation, flight path). ;- Simulation of the new design of the FTS system. This task shall be devoted to the simulation of the FTS system based on the requirements provided in task 2 and the design of the algorithms of task 3. The simulation shall perform in real-time and faster than real-time. This shall also include the verification of the functions of the FTS.
Application Domain
Space Transportation
Technology Domain
18 - Fluid Dynamics
Competence Domain
7-Propulsion, Space Transportation and Re-entry Vehicles
Initial TRL
Target TRL
Achieved TRL