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I suspect that near Earth, everything will be remotely automated. But for lunar operations, the latency of communication may necessitate SOME local human interaction, and it seems Mars operations would definitely require the role of a pilot.

How automated is this process expected to be? Is this a matter of a human pilot simply selecting a destination and sitting back while the systems get you there? Will there be a yoke and throttle?

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    $\begingroup$ Latency of communications is typically a nonissue as most commands are preprogrammed. The flight path has the ability to be altered but usually it will not be unless the craft reports being off course or has entered safemode for a variety of reasons. Even if you were to have a pilot most procedures seem to be automated. For example in the lunar insertions of apollo up until the last few minutes the descent profile was preprogrammed and running without manual control. In terms of starship though I do not know. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Sep 25 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, certification will require an uncrewed demonstration landing (see crew dragon) so there is no requirement for human pilots. However it is unlikely that meat cargo will be happy for there not to be the opportunity to override the computer, so some functionality will be put in place. The degree and manner is something for the unions to decide. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Sep 26 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ The crew has the capability of manually intervening and controlling docking for Soyuz, why would the requirement be any different for commercial crew? Certification for both commercial crew vehicles will certainly include HITL aborts and manual docking control. Unless you have a source that states otherwise. $\endgroup$ – mothman Sep 28 at 5:09
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    $\begingroup$ Depending on how the schedules work out, they may not have any flight heritage on Commercial Crew before Starship flies people... (note: I do not really believe the Starship schedule in any way, shape, or form). $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Oct 1 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ I don't "believe everything Elon says about Starship" - which iteration should one choose to believe, lol. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Oct 1 at 10:32
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NASA released a manual control requirements white paper for the Integrated Human Lunar Lander (IHLL) as part of their Appendix H Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). It can be found here: https://www.fbo.gov/notices/5491073942d867e576fbb1acc32bb8d2 as Attachment A17.

I found it to be an interesting read and it covers manual control actions during different mission phases. Manual control will likely not only be unnecessary but also unwanted during any transition burn or free-flight situations, but any docking (crewed refueling) and Mars landing situations will require a human to be able to be in the loop. Human control avoided multiple LOC events on Apollo and will likely still be required for decades in the future.

I want to let others draw their conclusions from this paper, but selecting from pre-programmed subroutines is explicitly considered to not be manual control. Manual control is a pilot literally grabbing the stick and having control of at least the descent rate and translation of the spacecraft during landing, and the attitude during docking.

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    $\begingroup$ What is the IHLL? And what is a BAA? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 29 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Integrated Human Lunar Lander, Artemis. The Broad Agency Announcement is NASA's request to private industry (SpaceX, BO, LM, Boeing, NG) for proposals for the design. $\endgroup$ – mothman Oct 1 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the acronymology! What does this document have to do with the SpaceX Starship? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Oct 1 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ It's an estimate of what the role of a human pilot will be on a program with similar requirements (landing humans on another celestial body) on a similar timeframe (5-10 years). It is the only evidence-based way to answer this question that summarizes decades of lessons learned from Apollo. Edit; Since SpaceX is working both the study phase and this proposal for Artemis (which has to meet this manual control req) it would not be irrational to assume that their proposed design and starship would be somewhat similar. $\endgroup$ – mothman Oct 1 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ If nothing else, it's an official document that gives the answer to another spacecraft of the current generation. $\endgroup$ – Chris B. Behrens Oct 1 at 12:33

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