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25 March 2024

Case Study: Independent Verification and Validation for Virgin Orbit’s Automated Flight Termination System

By Bobby Carlton
Virgin Orbit Rocket

By delivering comprehensive IV&V services and technical leadership, FS Studio played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of Virgin Orbit’s AFSS implementation.

Industry: Aerospace 

Client: Virgin Orbit 

Challenge:  

Virgin Orbit entrusted our team at FS Studio with a critical task: to conduct an Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) process for the Federal Aviation Administration FAA and Automated Flight Termination System (AFSS) utilized on their Launcher One vehicle.  

Objective:  

The primary goal of the project was to ensure the reliability and safety of the AFSS, a crucial component responsible for terminating flight operations in case of emergencies during the launch process.  

Virgin Orbit

Approach:  

Over a span of approximately two years, our team embarked on a comprehensive analysis of the hardware and software integrated into the vehicle avionics.  

This involved:  

  • Analysis: Thorough examination of the FSS and AFSS hardware and software components to identify any potential issues or vulnerabilities.  
  • Custom Testing Hardware: Design and implementation of custom automated testing hardware tailored specifically for the AFSS system.  
  • Custom Testing Software: Development of specialized automated testing software to rigorously evaluate the functionality and performance of the FAA and AFSS.  
  • Integration: Seamless integration of all testing systems into the existing Virgin Orbit infrastructure for streamlined test execution and reporting. 

Solution: 

FS Studio provided technical leadership throughout the project, leveraging our expertise in aerospace technology and software development. Our team collaborated closely with Virgin Orbit’s engineers to ensure alignment with industry standards and regulatory requirements. 

Outcome: 

At the conclusion of the project, the AFSS system and testing process received smooth and straightforward approval from the FAA. This achievement underscored the effectiveness of our IV&V efforts and the robustness of the AFSS system, bolstering confidence in the safety and reliability of Virgin Orbit’s Launcher One vehicle. 

Conclusion: 

By delivering comprehensive IV&V services and technical leadership, FS Studio played a pivotal role in ensuring the success of Virgin Orbit’s AFSS implementation. Our partnership exemplifies the critical importance of rigorous testing and validation in the aerospace industry, where safety and reliability are paramount.  

Though Virgin Orbit is no longer a company, the work FS Studio completed during this project has proven to show our expertise and our excellence and innovation in the space exploration industry that has led to partnerships with other aerospace organizations such as our work with Blue Origin and their BE-7 rocket.