Recently in Safety Category

Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal Update

"NASA is planning to proceed with a modified wet dress rehearsal, primarily focused on tanking the core stage, and minimal propellant operations on the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) with the ground systems at Kennedy. Due to the changes in loading procedures required for the modified test, wet dress rehearsal testing is slated to resume with call to stations on Tuesday, April 12 and tanking on Thursday, April 14. Wet dress rehearsal is an opportunity to refine the countdown procedures and validate critical models and software interfaces. The modified test will enable engineers to achieve the test objectives critical to launch success. Following the modified test, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft will return to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) where engineers will evaluate the valve and replace if needed. Teams are confident in the ability to replace the valve once back in the VAB."  

Inspector General Flunks NASA Management On Artemis/SLS/Orion, earlier post

"Rather than resolving the major shortcomings with the Agencys cost estimating and reporting practices, the recent policy amendments formalized known deficiencies as acceptable management practices. NASA had previously stated that it intended to establish new policies and procedures that would provide additional transparency for major programs with multiple deliverables and unspecified end points."

Keith's note: So ... a full-up test of loading the entire SLS with fuel was the official baselined program plan for what needed to be done on the pad in order to proceed toward the first launch. Then something did not work. Then something else did not work. Now a valve in the upper stage is not working. So NASA will skip that part when they try again. Then if everything else works they will roll SLS back to the VAB and maybe replace the ICPS valve. Or maybe not. But are they then going to roll SLS back out to the pad and do the full-up test - with all of the ICPS tests - that the program originally baselined - or skip some tests instead and check off some boxes with a waiver and a memo? If NASA is going to skip test steps then why have them as part of the test to begin with? Its a good thing that all NASA buys all of their goal posts with wheels.

NASA to Discuss Plans Today for Artemis Moon Mission Modified Test

"NASA will hold a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT today, Monday, April 11, to provide an update on the final major test of the agency's mega Moon rocket and spacecraft on the launch pad at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the uncrewed Artemis I lunar mission."

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2021 Annual Report, ASAP

"... Funding such endeavors will obviously take considerable resources. However, history suggests (as shown in Figure 1) it is unlikely NASA's budget will ever again exceed 1% of the federal budget, as it did during the lead-up to the Apollo Program. Consequently, it will not be possible for NASA to single-handedly carry out all of the missions now envisioned. Considering its ambitious goals and con- strained budget, for NASA--and hence the United States--to continue to play a strategic leadership role in space, the Agency must transform. While private industry efforts are an ever more important factor in the U.S. government's future endeavors, the commercial sector alone has not, and will not, be the vehicle that drives national goals. Consequently, the Agency will need to operate differently--from strategic planning and how it approaches program management, to workforce development, facility maintenance, acquisition strategies, contract types, and partnerships."

"... In adopting this disaggregated, decentralized program structure between SLS, EGS, and Orion, with the view that it is a manageable alternative to the familiar and effective program framework that served it well for the Apollo, STS, and ISS programs, NASA has seemed to overlook the negative impacts to cohesive integrated risk management. In essence, it appears that the cancellation of the Constellation program has led to a cautious stance among NASA leaders driven by the assumption that having an Apollo-like program now is a problematic political optic, and like Constellation, a possible target for cancellation by a future Administration. In effect, NASA has accepted the disaggregated program structure as normal, and is now propagating this structure as a preferred business and risk management model, even though it is essentially an untried approach for an integrated systems engineering effort of this magnitude and complexity. Thus, behavior that was instantiated as a coping mechanism for unstable political guidance has become institutionalized--as has the embedded uncertainty in risk management. Furthermore, the Agency is attempting to manage the risk in the structure it has adopted without deliberately assessing why the structure is at least equivalent to, if not an improvement to, a more familiar structure, and whether it should be advanced as a wholly new program approach."

To Understand Low-Earth Orbit, Look to Mt. Everest

"Getting to low-Earth orbit is a lot like climbing Mt. Everest. It's not impossible, but it's difficult, expensive and risky. As experience grows, the difficulty of reaching the destination drops steadily, and the risk becomes more manageable."

"...the commercial era of Everest expedition rises with the ability of the general public to pay commercial outfitters to climb Everest at a fraction of the cost it took to climb in the 1920s."

"Ordinary people can pay commercial outfitters ot climb, making Mt. Everest more acceptable and less expensive to summit."

Keith's note: What a mess. For starters anyone who spent even a bare minimum amount of time researching this article and talking to actual climbers such as NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, or read regular news from the Everest region might learn something than what was written.

In a nutshell they'd learn that the risk to climbers has increased as access has expanded due to crowding on the mountain; an increased number of under-skilled people putting themsleves and others at risk by trying to climb a mountain they are not capable of climbing; increased pollution at base camp and on the mountain which affects climbers and residents; and continued economic stresses on the residents of Nepal who are grossly underpaid for the risks that they take. Oh yes "ordinary people" cannot - and should not ever - be climbing a mountain like this - regardless of cost or affordability. But they do - in greater numbers - thus negating whatever point about risk reduction that the author is trying to make.

It is also rather weird that NASA would put an article online about Everest up and not mention the fact that a NASA astronaut scaled it, another NASA astronaut died trying to climb it, and that a piece of the summit of Everest has been on board the International Space Station for more than a decade.

FYI I spent a month living at Everest Base camp in 2009 supporting a person who summitted and witnessed injuries and deadly avalanches with my own eyes.

And also, FWIW I have spoken to a number of astronaut mountaineers and they will tell you that the risks involved in climbing a mountain like this are vastly more complex to deal with and the effort itself is equally more physically arduous than sitting in a rocket while it does all the work of taking you to and from space. If you are going to compare these things you need to actually compare them for what they are.

But this sort of sloppy writing seems to pass as acceptable at NASA PAO these days. If this article reflects the way NASA is actually planning its Moon and Mars exploration then there are going to be some big problems for the people who go there. To put badly written things like this online is deceptive, superficial, and not in the best interest of informing the public.

Space Station Incident Demands Independent Investigation, Jim Oberg, IEEE Spectrum

"How close the station had come to disaster is an open question, and the flight director humorously alluded to it in a later tweet that he'd never been so happy as when he saw on external TV cameras that the solar arrays and radiators were still standing straight in place. And any excessive bending stress along docking interfaces between the Russian and American segments would have demanded quick leak checks. But even if the rotation was "simple," the undeniably dramatic event has both short term and long-term significance for the future of the space station. And it has antecedents dating back to the very birth of the ISS in 1997."

Keith's note: The first person I thought of when this happened was Jim Oberg. Back in the 90s Jim and I were tag teaming coverage of things that happened on board Mir as part of the Phase 1 effort to build a joint U.S./Russian space station out of what was once Mir-2 and Space Station Freedom. NASA was not happy with what we reported. Much of what we uncovered spoke to bad communications between the U.S. and Russian teams, an underlying level of distrust, and a lot of ad hoc decision making. But the over-arching intent on both sides was to make things work - since things simply had to work - and to put forth that unified front - especially when things got rocky.

These items from 1997 come to mind:

Charlie Harlan's Thoughts on Spaceflight Safety, 29 June 1997

"When NASA originally began the Shuttle/Mir Program, no rigorous safety analysis or risk analysis was accomplished. NASA decided based on the then understood historical performance of safe Mir operations to accept that record as a given. This was done by a subjective review process unlike the systematic safety and reliability analytical techniques utilized for U.S. human spaceflight. If you remember, at that time the Russians were not always forthright about their systems failures or some of the problems they had in the past. The decision was made at the highest levels of NASA, and the formal safety analysis that was established for the Phase I Program was only for the new joint operations activities, new experiments, and new procedures. The acceptance of the existing Mir safety record was driven by management judgment, and therefore for formal and structured documented risk baseline exists for the start of the program. It should be very clear to everyone that the risk level to human safety on the Mir Station has increased somewhat since the early management decisions and agreements were made."

Better-Cheaper-Faster: The Risk of Being Open and Honest (Part 1), 16 July 1997

"Instead, PAO reverts to its least open behavior on the Shuttle/Mir program. A harbinger of things to come on ISS? Individuals who are allowed to speak for NASA are thoroughly briefed so as to know what NOT to say. Press releases are diluted and sanitized. I get all the internal NASA email, so I see what doesn't make it on TV - or the press wires. I hear all the stories from frustrated program managers who speak of PAO saying things such as "why do they need to know this" or "we'd rather not let that out right now".

Keith's note: Echoes from the past. Example: the sanitized stuff that dribbled out of NASA PAO after the Nauka event designed to minimize details as to what actually happened and to accentuate the level of cooperation between the U.S., Russia, and other ISS partners. I guess we'll have to wait for one of those one hour Aerospace Safety Advisory Committee telecon meetings at some point in the future - the sort of meeting NASA PAO never announces - where the truth will start to dribble out - as it did after Mir and other accidents.

Jim also recounts the rocky first hours of the launch of FGB-1 - aka Zarya - on 20 November 1998. It refused to obey firing commands and the U.S. was kept in the dark for a while. Flash forward to 2021 and its twin - Nauka - originally built as FGB-2 as the back up for FGB-1 (paid for by the U.S.) had similar problems once reaching space.

To be certain the International Space Station program has been a resounding success overall and future international efforts could do well to learn from it. Given the continued bad blood between the U.S. and Russia it is astonishing that the ISS has managed to exist - literally and politically - above the fray of terrestrial squabbles. Indeed, it has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize as a result - an idea I personally thing is worth pursuing. I am one of the 100,000+ people who designed and built this amazing spacecraft - one that was paid for by over a billion taxpayers. And I call it the "Undiscovered Country" since I feel its fullest potential has yet to be tapped.

But, accomplishments and potential aside, this does not mean that the picture onboard the ISS is perfect. It is not. Underneath the orbital comradery there are still problems. The ISS program just declared the first "spacecraft emergency" in its entire existence on orbit. That is big news, right? Yet NASA and Roscosmos do not want to talk about it. Why is that?

I hope Congress holds a hearing on this - just like they did after the fire and collision on Mir a quarter of a century ago. If something is broken then it needs to be fixed - even if NASA won't admit that there is a problem. And what is it they say about people and organizations who have problems? The first step is to admit that there is a problem.

Nauka Was An Accident Waiting To Happen And NASA Knew, earlier post

NASA OIG: NASA's Efforts to Mitigate the Risks Posed by Orbital Debris, OIG

"Despite presidential and congressional directives to NASA over the past decade to develop active debris removal technologies, the Agency has made little to no progress on such efforts. Moreover, debris removal technologies from international agencies and commercial entities are in the early stages of development and testing. ... We found that NASA models of the orbital debris environment lack sufficient data, putting the Agency at risk of under- or over-protecting spacecraft from debris."

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2020 Annual Report

"... We believe that NASA must make some strategically critical decisions, based on deliberate and thorough consideration, that are necessary because of their momentous consequences for the future of human space exploration and, in particular, for the management of the attendant risks. These decisions involve:

• What role NASA intends to perform going forward and why.
• How the Agency will interact with both commercial and international partners.
• How the Agency will address shared risks.
• What management practices will be employed.
• How the expectations will be communicated to their partners and to their workforce.
• How effective Systems Engineering and Integration will be accomplished.
• What the NASA workforce of the future should look like and how it will be achieved.

The Mission NASA Doesn't Want to Postpone, The Atlantic

"In this moment, an astronaut launch might seem to be the opposite of everything Americans have been instructed to do to protect themselves and one another: Flinging people outward doesn't quite line up with a growing nationwide impulse to turn inward. The mission would unfold against a truly unprecedented backdrop; even wars and national strife, one space historian told me, haven't posed a challenge to the U.S. space program like this pandemic has." ... "The space community often considers themselves a different level of somewhat unique and special in not having to adhere to the same rules as others--because what they're doing is so important, it should still be done," Garver said. "I will not be surprised if the public finds it not what they would view as 'essential.'" I just think most people will say, 'Well, people are dying here.'"

Keith's 14 April note: A substantial number of states have decided that liquor stores, vaping shops, and marijuana businesses are "essential" and must be allowed to stay open. No one seems to be questioning the risk taken by the people who work there or frequent these businesses to say nothing of the adverse risks that using these substances have on people who catch the virus. Major league team sports are talking about ways to play their games in closed stadiums (which still require lots of people to operate) and every one seems to be happy about that. And everyone is ordering groceries from home to be safe - even if an army of people is required to risk their health to deliver that food.

Update: pro-wrestling has been declared an essential business in the state of Florida. Yes, pro wrestling.

If NASA and SpaceX have all personnel and resources required to safely - let me repeat safely - and the people involved volunteer to take the risks - and meet all aspects of mission operations they should go ahead with the launch. The people who manage and work at NASA and SpaceX are smart and understand the value of a safe workplace under COVID-19 constraints. In the end Jim and Elon will assess whether their people want to do this.

I think the public as a whole understands the importance of things such as missions to explore space. We all need something to aspire to right now - and hope that there will be a future out there when this nightmare is over.

Hope is essential - certainly much more so than beer, pot, and the playoffs.

Keith's 19 April update: Just as long as everyone involved in this launch is safe - and feels safe - and wants to make this happen - then they should be allowed to make this happen.

Despite coronavirus, NASA and SpaceX aim to launch astronauts in May, Florida Today

"NASA has a space station to operate and we aren't de-crewing it because of the virus," said James Muncy, a Washington, D.C.-based space policy consultant. "Carrying off a first, safe Commercial Crew mission needs to happen for the nation to operate the station and to continue what we're doing in space." "It would be better if we didn't have this pandemic and it would be better if a million people could come to Florida and fill up hotel rooms and you would get the full economic benefit of that first launch," he said. "But NASA has to keep moving in space." ... Lori Garver, former deputy administrator of NASA, said her views "evolved this week" after recognizing the pandemic could last a year or more. "If the workforce is safe and SpaceX and NASA are ready - I agree it is a priority," she said. "The U.S. has spent about $150 billion on ISS and it can't postpone (astronaut) exchange and supplies that long."

Apollo 13 Reminds Us of Hard Things Worth Doing, op ed, By Jim Lovell and Jim Bridenstine, WS Journal

"As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, Americans can take comfort in our history of facing difficult times with courage and emerging stronger on the other side of struggle. The Apollo 13 mission, launched 50 years ago Saturday, reminds us of Americans' characteristic resilience and ingenuity. ... When things went wrong on the Apollo 13 mission, it captured the world's attention. News of the oxygen-tank explosion and crippled service module jolted the public awake to the drama unfolding 200,000 miles from Earth. Americans were reminded that space exploration is high-risk work demanding exceptional technical competence and bravery. ... No one familiar with the perils of the mission can look at duct tape, plastic bags and cardboard the same ever again."

Keith's note: On 21 February 2020 a memo titled "Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Flights Over NASA Centers/Facilities", written by Joseph S. Mahaley, Assistant Administrator, Office of Protective Services, was sent to the entire NASA workforce. It opens with:

"This communication is forwarded at the direction of NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyzk to educate all employees, contractors, tenants, and others having access to NASA properties on the threat posed to people, facilities and operations by unauthorized UAS/drone flights over NASA Centers/Facilities."

OK, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to advise employees about. Drones are problematic for many reasons. After going into the damage that can be caused by - and punishment for violations of NASA drone use policy, the author goes on to describe the various uses of drones:

"UAS/drones are used to film weddings, properties, inspect power lines, and to identify fires in remote forests. Criminals use them to "peep" into windows and to deliver contraband to prisons. U.S. Law Enforcement officials are concerned that terrorists may use UAS/drones in future attacks. Soon, UAS/drones will deliver packages to homes, ferry people to and from their destinations and for purposes not yet imagined: all with the help of NASA UAS traffic Management Systems!"

This is a weird train wreck of strange word capitalizations (editor needed), a list of the benefits of drone use, and the bad uses of drones - and they are all apparently benefiting from the NASA UAS traffic technology. Its like a list of NASA spinoffs for good guys and/or bad guys. The author then goes further to list the dangerous uses of drones:

"The Department of Defense very successfully uses UAS/Drones to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance. In January of this year, U.. Forces using an MQ-9 Reaper UAS, at the direction of President Trump, eliminated top Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani (leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force) under whose direction scores of U.S. Forces were killed or maimed and who was in Iraq to plan more attacks against Americans. UAS/drones can be used for good or ill; depending on the skill/intent of the operator."

To be clear this evil b*stard deserved no mercy. Full stop. You can debate whether or not it should have been done this way but not in a NASA memo. This paragraph reads like some political talking points and election year arm waving sent directly from the White House spin office. Why is NASA using an internal memo to employees to brag about a military attack mentioning the President by name - unless, perhaps, this is also a spin off of NASA UAS traffic management technology? I think we all doubt that this is the case. So why is it even mentioned?

This memo would be just fine without this overtly political paragraph. And to mix NASA benefits in the middle of a memo designed to warn people of certain dangers is a goofy place to try and promote NASA technology. Save that for a separate memo and focus on the risks. I hope someone in Jurcyzk's office pays a little more attention to incendiary and politically-tanted verbiage being sent out in official memos.

Get an editor, Steve.

I sent these questions to PAO etc. to see if someone can explain this: "Can someone explain why overt mention of a specific military action in Iraq was deemed necessary to mention in a memo designed to warn NASA employees about drones flying over NASA facilities?" and "Why was a memo used to warn employees about drone risks also used to promote the benefits of drone use?"

Full memo.

Keith's update: This is NASA PAO's non-answer answer: "Hey Keith. As you know, NASA is involved in the development of unmanned aircraft, and drone technologies and traffic management systems. The intent of the phrasing was to point out to employees that there are positive and negative uses of these technologies, and to give examples of both. The communication was intended to convey the risks to people, facilities, and operations posed by unauthorized flights over NASA Centers and facilities. The mention of the military drone strike was included, as this was a very recent example of the potential power and lethality of drones."

Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and 'Clowns' Who Designed 737 Max, NY Times

"The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos. The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator's certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737."

Boeing releases internal messages on 737 MAX, calls them 'completely unacceptable"

"Boeing Co on Thursday released hundreds of internal messages that raise serious questions about its development of simulators and the 737 MAX that was grounded in March after two fatal crashes, prompting outrage from U.S. lawmakers. In an April 2017 exchange of instant messages, two employees expressed complaints about the MAX following references to issues with the plane's flight management computer. "This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys," one unnamed employee wrote. In one message dated November 2015, which appears to shed light on lobbying methods used when facing demands from regulators, a Boeing employee notes regulators were likely to want simulator training for a particular type of cockpit alert."

Boeing's 737/Starliner/SLS Problem Strategy: Blame The Media
Boeing Just Fired Its CEO
Boeing's Starliner Mission Flops Due To A Broken Clock
Boeing Apparently Disagrees With NASA OIG Commercial Crew Report

Keith's note: From a retired NASA employee and long-time NASAWatch reader:

"Keith, the attached photo was just too instructive to pass up. Let me explain. This is at the Gilruth Center at JSC.

I believe that it visually shows the risk averse nature of NASA and says something about space politics. I.e., one stop sign wasn't enough. A second one is safer. And then a sign explaining what a stop sign means. Man are we safely redundant.

I am a retired NASA engineer and could not pass up the hilarious sight.


Larger image

NASA concerned about culture of "inappropriateness" at SpaceX, Ars Technica

"In addition to spurring problems for the car company Tesla, Elon Musk's puff of marijuana in September will also have consequences for SpaceX. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that NASA will conduct a "safety review" of both of its commercial crew companies, SpaceX and Boeing. The review was prompted, sources told the paper, because of recent behavior by Musk, including smoking marijuana on a podcast. According to William Gerstenmaier, NASA's chief human spaceflight official, the review will be "pretty invasive" and involve interviews with hundreds of employees at various levels of the companies, across multiple worksites. The review will begin next year, and interviews will examine "everything and anything that could impact safety," Gerstenmaier told the Post."

NASA to launch safety review of SpaceX and Boeing after video of Elon Musk smoking pot rankled agency leaders, Washington Post

"The review was prompted by the recent behavior of SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, according to three officials with knowledge of the probe, after he took a hit of marijuana and sipped whiskey on a podcast streamed on the Internet. That rankled some at NASA's highest levels and prompted the agency to take a close look at the culture of the companies, the people said."

Keith's note: Its good that NASA wants everyone in the human spaceflight family to be safe and productive. Alas, NASA has run out of things to blame its own internal failures on so they go after two external partners to see if there is anything they can dig up. The net result will probably be a delay to Boeing and SpaceX launches which will make SLS delays look less bad, I guess. Imagine what a similar internal scrutiny of NASA SLS/Orion employees would reveal. Will NASA and SLS/Orion staff at equivalent levels be queried about their on-the-job and off-time habits? It is rather ironic that NASA's human spaceflight program is this uptight about a podcast (one that includes mention of behavior that is legal in California) when the entire NASA senior management has been drinking the Koolaid for decades ("Don't worry - be happy").

SpaceX can reuse rockets and learned how to do so at a fraction of what it would have taken NASA to do so - if they even knew how, that is. NASA has no rockets to reuse and they spent a billion dollars to make reusable shuttle engines disposable. SpaceX needs 7 launches before people can fly. But NASA will launch crews on their second SLS flight and they put crews back on Soyuz months after a booster malfunctioned.

Who cares what SpaceX or Boeing may be smoking. I want to know what NASA has been smoking.

Keith's note: I got this note from Homer Hickam today: "While reading about the kids in Thailand trapped in a cave by floodwaters and the rescuers thinking about training them to scuba dive, it first occurred to me that we teach youngsters to dive very quickly at Space Camp's Underwater Astronaut Trainer (UAT) and might be able to help. But on second thought, we do this in ideal conditions with perfectly clear, warm water. These youngsters in Thailand would have to deal with cold, very murky, and rapidly moving water so I concluded teaching them to dive was impractical.

Then I recalled that NASA developed Personal Rescue Enclosures (PRE) for shuttle rescues. Here's a mockup of the rescue ball as tested. In this case, the ball would be flooded, eliminating the buoyancy problem. Could be done and the kids could be fully controlled this way.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2017 Annual Report

"The report, released Thursday, is based on the panel's 2017 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; "insight" visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making processes; discussions with NASA management, employees and contractors; and the panel members' own experience. "It is clear to the panel that NASA is at a critical juncture in human spaceflight development and that this is a time to retain focus on program details; to maintain a sense of urgency while not giving in to schedule pressure and to continue with program plans without neglecting, shortchanging, or deleting program content essential to safety and mission assurance," said ASAP Chair Patricia Sanders. The report reiterates the need for constancy of purpose as NASA is on the verge of realizing the results of years of work and extensive resource investment."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2016 Annual Report, earlier post

Keith's 6 December update: Sources report that the two individuals who spoke with a potential employer of Ben Samouha were NASA employees George Mitchell and Andy Gamble. They were reportedly bragging about how they had done this until they read NASAWatch - and then they shut up.

Keith's 4 December update: According to a friend who has spoken with Ben Samouha, he has been retaliated against. Two NASA MSFC people became aware he was being interviewed for a new job and called the new employer. Speaking for NASA, they said not to hire him, that he's trouble, incompetent, makes waves. More to follow.

Keith's 27 November note: A letter was sent to NASA MSFC management last week by Ben Samouha, a 30+ year veteran in software safety whose career reaches back to the Challenger era. As has been noted previously on NASAWatch there has been a significant amount of internal controversy over safety and software being developed for SLS. Clearly these safety issues remain. People are quitting instead of trying to fight the system, or in some cases, they leave after having been forced out for speaking up about their concerns. As Samouha notes:

"These people have been for a long time (and still are) continuously ignoring or not properly addressing FSW Safety related observations and findings and unethically do not disclose issues to the upper management in order to show a virtual progress in order to keep their jobs. Anyone with years of experience and integrity to Safety can see through these imposters just like I did."

- MSFC To Safety Contractor: Just Ignore Those SLS Software Issues, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post

Collateral damage from cosmic rays increases cancer risks for Mars astronauts, University of Nevada Las Vegas

"Galactic cosmic ray exposure can devastate a cell's nucleus and cause mutations that can result in cancers," Cucinotta explained. "We learned the damaged cells send signals to the surrounding, unaffected cells and likely modify the tissues' microenvironments. Those signals seem to inspire the healthy cells to mutate, thereby causing additional tumors or cancers." Cucinotta said the findings show a tremendous need for additional studies focused on cosmic ray exposures to tissues that dominate human cancer risks, and that these should begin prior to long-term space missions outside the Earth's geomagnetic sphere."

Accepting More Personal Risk In Space Exploration, earlier post

"People who engage on expeditions to risky and dangerous places on Earth regulary waive certain safety and medical regulations in order to participate. I have done it more than once in the arctic and at Everest. You consider the risks, weigh the benefits, and then sign the forms. There are lifetime radiation exposure limits for astronauts that are supposed to be used to guide the selection of ISS crews. Now, these limits are apparently subject to selective waiver."

Keith's note: Last night there was a panel at the Humans To Mars Summit about risk and exploration. The panel was moderated by Leonard David and consisted of NAI Director Penny Boston, former astronaut and SMD AA John Grunsfeld, former Google space lead Tiffany Montague, and NASA SMD's Rick Davis. At one point the 2004 Risk and Exploration Symposium that John and I put together back in 2004 was mentioned. The proceedings are online for free download here. I am currently writing two books - one on Astrobiology expeditions and the other as a follow-up to the 2004 Risk and Exploration Symposium (and another we did in 2007 at LSU).

For both of my books I have been amassing information on what risks people have taken (on expeditions in space and elsewhere) and how they have been called upon to take these risks. Specifically, I have been focusing on this question: "Would you be willing to deliberately risk your life to discover evidence of life on another world?". Along with that question I'm wondering "Will NASA astronauts bound for Mars be asked to sign waivers with regard to risk as part of overall risk evaluations and informed consent? Will they only be allowed to go if they specifically agree to accept these risks?".

At one point last night John said this:

Clearly this issue is part of the overall risk assessment that astronauts make albeit somewhat personalized and ad hoc. By coincidence John was in orbit in May 2009 taking care of Hubble while another astronaut, Scott Parazynski, did his own risk analysis as he summitted Mt. Everest. I was 2-3 linear miles away from Scott doing education and public outreach for his climb at base camp recovering from an illness that left me with some permanent damage. So ... I think about this topic a lot. As the notion of NASA sending humans to Mars starts to get serious, many more people will need to be thinking along these lines. Matt Damon got back OK in "The Martian". But that was a movie.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago when Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. space endurance record. People who engage on expeditions to risky and dangerous places on Earth regularly waive certain safety and medical regulations in order to participate. I have done it more than once in the arctic and at Everest. You consider the risks, weigh the benefits, and then sign the forms. There are lifetime radiation exposure limits for astronauts that are supposed to be used to guide the selection of ISS crews. Now, these limits are apparently subject to selective waiver. So are these "limits" now becoming "guidelines"? Are astronauts now doing something similar to what terrestrial explorers do in order to spend more time in space? What is the process whereby NASA makes this waiver decision? What are the implications for the whole #JourneyToMars thing?

Accepting even a small increase in risk be it from radiation, weightlessness, or surface hazards on Mars can have a significant impact on mission design i.e. cost and schedule. Right now cost and schedule are the biggest risk to going to Mars in the first place.


NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases 2016 Annual Report

"At this critical time, with designs maturing, hardware being produced, and testing intensifying, it is important to maintain a focus on safety, risk reduction, and mission assurance. Challenges and difficult decisions will need to be faced with clarity, transparency, and thoroughness. Inevitably, there will be risks that must be accepted, but that should occur only after thought- ful deliberation of alternatives, understanding the benefits of acceptance, and careful documentation of the decision including the process and rationale for arriving at it. The ASAP reiterates the need for consistent program goals, funding, and schedules, also known as "constancy of purpose." Human space flight and exploration are inherently challenging and risky and require far-reaching, long-term national com- mitment to capitalize on painstakingly achieved knowledge and to realize the results of resource investments. The lack of consistent commitment negatively impacts cost, schedule, performance, workforce morale, process discipline, and - most importantly - safety. The impact on NASA programs from continuing employment of Continuing Resolutions (CRs) is of concern to the ASAP. The uncertainty of an assured and exact budget for a long-duration, technically challenging program and the partial release of funds as the CR unfolds adds, at best, complexity to managing programs and, importantly to the ASAP, can distract from maintaining the required focus on safety."

Keith's note: According to sources at NASA MSFC the contractor performing software safety tests found massive errors in the SDF test cases (no hardware testing, just software). The quality check of the test cases was given a stand down order by George Mitchell. Mitchell is Andy Gamble's deputy on SLS flight software safety. Mitchell had already told the contractor that they were not allowed to impact the testing or ask for re-testing. Further, he said that these tests had already been accepted as successfully verifying the flight software requirements. In other words the issues raised by NASA MSFC employees about SLS flight software testing are officially moot.

- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post

Keith's 4 November update: In a recent meeting the new NASA MSFC QD34 CSO said that SLS Launch commit criteria aren't being tested with software. Sources report that upper management asked why.

SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update)

Experts concerned by SpaceX plan to fuel rockets with people aboard, Reuters

"It was unanimous ... Everybody there, and particularly the people who had experience over the years, said nobody is ever near the pad when they fuel a booster," [Chair Tom] Stafford said, referring to an earlier briefing the group had about SpaceX's proposed fueling procedure. SpaceX needs NASA approval of its launch system before it can put astronauts into space. In an email to Reuters sent late Monday, SpaceX said its fueling system and launch processes will be re-evaluated pending the results of the accident investigation."

Keith's 31 October update: NASA MSFC Internal Memo: Key Personnel Announcement -Teresa Washington is retiring, NASA MSFC

"Upon the upcoming retirement of Teresa Washington, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Marcus Lea to the Senior Executive Service (SES) position of Director, Office of Human Capital (OHC). As OHC Director, Mr. Lea will be responsible for the entire scope of the Center's workforce strategy and planning, organization and leadership development, academic affairs, training and incentives, federal labor relations, and employee services and operations."

SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post

Rescuers succeed in evacuating sick workers at the South Pole, Washington Post

"For the third time ever, rescue workers have successfully evacuated someone from the South Pole during the brutal Antarctic winter, the National Science Foundation said. A plane carrying two sick workers from the Amundsen-Scott research station arrived on the Antarctic Coast early Wednesday afternoon, following a harrowing 10-hour flight across the continent. Both workers require medical attention not available at the station, prompting the rare rescue effort. ... Typically, none of the 50 or so people who overwinter at Amundsen-Scott can leave between February and October. One former worker described the South Pole as more inaccessible than the International Space Station."

Ailing Antarctic personnel transported to safety, nsf

"NSF determined that an evacuation was warranted and called on Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd., which has a U.S. government contract to fly in support of U.S. Antarctic Program science, to conduct this mission."

Keith's note: I have flown in Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes multiple times in the arctic. More than once my pilot was an antarctic veteran - in once case, a mid-winter medical rescue pilot. These folks really, really know their stuff.

NASA Has To Fight The Forgetting, NBC

"[Space workers] need the consequent inescapable ache of fear and the gnawing of doubt that keeps asking, over and over, if they've covered all angles and done all they can. And if their stomachs do not knot up, and mouths go dry, as they confront such decisions perhaps they need new jobs. They do not need comforting myths about "valuable sacrifices" and "space-is-very-very-hard" rationalizations for the failures of individuals and teams. And most of all, they do not need more human sacrifices to remind them of things they knew, but somehow allowed themselves to forget."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Annual Report 2015

"In October 2015, NASA published what it called "a detailed outline" of its next steps in getting to the Red Planet. Unfortunately, the level of detail in the report, NASA's Journey to Mars: Pioneering the Next Steps in Space Exploration, does not really validate whether NASA would be capable of achieving such an ambitious objective in a reasonable time period, with realistically attainable technologies, and with budgetary requirements that are consistent with the current economic environment."

- Kicking The Can Down the Road to Mars, earlier post
- NASA Begins Its Journey To Nowhere, earlier post
- Yet Another NASA Mars "Plan" Without A Plan - or a Budget, earlier post
- NASA's Strategic Plan Isn't Strategic - or a Plan, earlier post
- Charlie Bolden's Meandering Strategic Plans, earlier post

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 9 June 2015

"Today at 10:27 a.m. Central time during the routine testing of communications systems between the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS), Soyuz thrusters activated inadvertently which led to a slight change in the orientation of the ISS. Actions were immediately taken to reorient the ISS. There was no threat to the crew or the station itself, and the issue will have no impact to a nominal return to Earth of the Soyuz TMA-15M on Thursday. Roscosmos specialists are determining the cause of the incident. Once more information is known, additional information will be provided."

Keith's note: Hmmm ... rocket engines on a spacecraft just fire for some unknown reason, alter the ISS orientation such that contingency measures need to be taken and ... that's it: stay tuned? When I worked at NASA something like this in a safety review would have justifiably been a cosmic issue of epic proportions. Not any more, it would seem. I guess there will be some telecons and some Powerpoint slides.

- Soyuz Engines Fire When They're Not Supposed To, earlier post

"From: Watkins, Vincent D. (JSC-NA111)
Date: Fri, May 1, 2015 at 7:53 AM
Subject: Check Out New JSC S&MA Director's Blog

Great blog on courage and dissenting opinions. Leave a comment and be a part of the discussion!"

Keith's note: Oh well. Too bad no one outside of the NASA JSC firewall you can see this blog ( about "courage and dissenting opinions".

Safety panel accuses NASA of a 'lack of transparency' in critical space program, Washington Post

"NASA's independent safety panel accused the agency of a "lack of transparency" about its program to hire commercial space companies to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, saying the opacity could create increased safety risks. In its annual report to Congress, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said the lack of communication about critical safety measures "has been a concern for a number of years." And it made it impossible for the panel "to offer any informed opinion regarding the adequacy of the certification process or the sufficiency of safety" in what is known as the "commercial crew" program. The "failure to engage in open and transparent communication is reminiscent of the problems" surrounding the causes of the fatal Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, according to the report released Wednesday."

ASAP 2014 Annual Report

Space is Dangerous - Be Prepared (AIAA Space 2014 Astronaut Panel) , SpaceRef

"The panel fielded questions about NASA's seemingly risk adverse culture and its possible effect on future exploration, with Crippen admitting that "NASA has become risk adverse." Brandenstein added "that if we would have had the risk culture of the late shuttle era at its beginning, we would have never have launched STS-1."

... "On actual cooperation with the Chinese, Crippen expressed his support: "I believe we ought to be approaching the Chinese to be a part of that as well, they have a space program, they are well proven. We did it with the Russians and it worked out well for us." Crippen also noted that cooperation and information sharing would "naturally be tempered by national security concerns."

Loss of Signal: Aeromedical Lessons Learned from the STS-107 Columbia Space Shuttle Mishap

"Loss of Signal presents the aeromedical lessons learned from the Columbia accident that will enhance crew safety and survival on human space flight missions. These lessons were presented to limited audiences at three separate Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) conferences. As we are embarking on the development of new spacefaring vehicles through both government and commercial efforts, the NASA Johnson Space Center Space Life Sciences Directorate (SLSD)1 proceeded to make this information available to a wider audience engaged in the design and development of future space vehicles."

Risk and Exploration

Avalanches: Beauty, Wonder, and Danger - with video (May 2009)

Keith's note: There was a huge avalanche at Everest yesterday. So far it seems that 12 people were killed - all Sherpa guides. They were walking up the Khumu Icefall on their way to work. This (link above) is what Scott Parazynski and I witnessed in May 2009. At the time this was described as being a very, very big avalanche for Everest. As such, I can only imagine what yesterday's fatal avalanche at Everest looked like. No one was injured in the avalanche in this video.

Massive Avalanche Over The Lower Khumbu Icefall - with video (May 2009)

As I watched this equally huge avalanche (link above) a week later I was almost certain that Scott was in it. We did not know for a while if he was. As it happened Scott and Danuru Sherpa climbed fast and were above the Khumbu icefall when it happened. But Scott's climbing partner Rejean and his sherpa Dawa were caught in it. Dawa's quick thinking saved Rejean's life. Alas, one Sherpa guide was lost in this avalanche. It was a curious existence at Everest Base Camp. I awoke every morning to see the Khumbu Icefall outside my tent flap - calm and serene and always an instant away from becoming deadly. You get used to this - and then again you don't.

NASA has its risks and tragedies as well. That said it is always - odd - to watch both cultures (climbing and space) deal with risk. The similarities in risks are often eerily similar yet the ways that the risks are dealt with is often utterly different. FYI I noted this disaprity a decade ago and this led to the Risk and Exploration Symposium that John Grunsfeld and I put together for NASA in 2004. By coincidence, John Grunsfeld was in orbit while Scott and I were at Everest.

Life is very fragile - even for the strongest of climbers - or the most skilled astronauts. But that doesn't mean that all risks should be avoided. Many simply need to be confronted. The risks need to be understood and dealt with in a way that safeguards people while still allowing adventure and exploration to continue. Exploration is a risky endeavour - by definition.

NASA Should Use an Ethics Framework When Making Decisions About Health Standards For Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflights

"NASA should use an ethics framework when deciding whether, and under what conditions, spaceflights that venture outside low Earth orbit or extend beyond 30 days are acceptable if they do not meet current health standards, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences."

Expedition 39/40 Trio's Arrival at Space Station Delayed

"The next trio of crew members destined for the International Space Station is now looking forward to a Thursday arrival at the orbiting laboratory after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach."

New Crew Launches to Space Station

"Three crew members representing the United States and Russia are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. on March 26 in Baikonur)."

Marc's Update: The first additional burns have been completed successfully for the 34 orbit rendezvous. According to Space Station Mission Operations Integration Manager Kenny Todd "everything looks real good".

Ralph Roe Named NASA Chief Engineer, NASA

"As chief engineer, Ralph will be responsible for the overall review and technical readiness of all NASA programs. The chief engineer serves as the agency's principal advisor on the execution of our programs and projects with proper controls and management of technical risks and ensures our work is planned and conducted on a sound engineering basis."

Controversial Appointment At NASA, Daily Press (2003)

"A key player in the doomed Columbia shuttle mission was named director of a new safety office at NASA Langley Research Center on Friday. Ralph Roe, one of a team of people who dismissed falling foam debris as a threat to the shuttle during its final flight, is now director of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center."

NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Meeting (Revised notice)

"SUMMARY: This is an amended version of NASA's earlier Federal Register Notice (13-153) previously published on December 23, 2013 (78 FR 77501). A USA toll free conference call number has been added to SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION."

NASA Is Not Allowing Remote Access to Some Advisory Meetings

"Notice anything missing? NASA is not offering Webex or dial in access to these meetings - something that the NAC has been offering for the past several years for its activities (these three are non-NAC committees). Several of these committees have had remote access before. By denying such access to these meetings, NASA is deliberately inhibiting the the public's ability to observe these meetings thus decreasing openness and transparency - something that all government agencies have been directed to do."

Female Astronauts Said To Face Discrimination Over NASA's Space Radiation Concerns, Huffington Post

"Depending on when you fly a space mission, a female will fly only 45 to 50 percent of the missions that a male can fly," Peggy Whitson, the former chief of NASA's Astronaut Corps, said. "That's a pretty confining limit in terms of opportunity. I know that they are scaling the risk to be the same, but the opportunities end up causing gender discrimination based on just the total number of options available for females to fly. [That's] my perspective."

NASA's Explosives Problem

NASA OIG: Review of NASA's Explosives Safety Program

"This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA's Explosives Safety Program was poorly managed and exposed personnel and facilities to unnecessary risk. Specifically, we identified 155 violations of regulations, policies, procedures, and processes involving unsafe conditions and practices - some of which could have resulted in significant damage, injury, or death to NASA personnel, contractors, and the public."

NASA manager mused about what to tell Columbia crew if they had known space shuttle was doomed, AP

"When NASA started flying shuttles again, Hale told the new team of mission managers: "We are never ever going to say that there is nothing we can do." NASA developed an in-flight heat shield repair kit. ... Hale said he is now writing about the issue because he wanted future space officials not to make the mistakes he and his colleagues did. The loss of the Columbia astronauts -- people he knew -- still weighs on Hale. "You never get over it. It's always present with you," Hale said. "These are people I knew well. Several of them, I worked closely with. I was responsible for their safety. It's never going to go away."

Code Red: NASA Safety Panel's Warning on Funding Uncertainty, AIP

"Earlier this month the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel issued its 2012 Annual Report. Looking for hazards across the space agency's wide-ranging portfolio of on-going and proposed operations and facilities, the panel assessed six issues and concerns. Only one of the six in the three-color-coded graphic was red: the continuing issue of funding uncertainty. "NASA's budget is the 'elephant in the room' both for commercial space and for longer term exploration" the panel warned."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases Annual Report

"This report is based on the panel's 2012 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; center visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making; discussions with NASA management, employees, and contractors; and the panel members' past experiences. The report highlights issues that could have an impact on safety."

2012 ASAP Report

"In FY13, we predict this planning-funding disconnect will again drive a change to acquisition strategy, schedule, and/or safety risk. The ASAP is concerned that some will champion an approach that is a current option contained in the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. There is risk this optional, orbital flight-test demonstration with a non-NASA crew could yield two standards of safety--one reflecting NASA requirements, and one with a higher risk set of commercial requirements. It also raises questions of who acts as certification authority and what differentiates public from private accountability. Separating the level of safety demanded in the system from the unique and hard-earned knowledge that NASA possesses introduces new risks and unique challenges to the normal precepts of public safety and mission responsibility. We are concerned that NASA's CCiCap 2014 "Option" prematurely signals tacit acceptance of this commercial requirements approach absent serious consideration by all the stakeholders on whether this higher level of risk is in fact in concert with national objectives."

Keith's note: It is exceptionally odd that the ASAP gets all hot and bothered about certifying American-produced commercial crew spacecraft when the ASAP all too willingly said it was OK to fly Americans on Russian Soyuz spacecraft - spacecraft which have never been given the same level of formal safety certification by NASA - i.e. the certification that the ASAP apparently wants for domestically produced commercial spacecraft. A number of years ago, at a time when Americans living on Mir were exposed to repeated accidents, I asked (then) NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory in a public setting if Russian spacecraft meet or exceed NASA safety requirements. Gregry said "clearly they do not". This question and response was subsequently referenced in a congressional hearing.

It is also a bit odd that the ASAP was perfectly happy with NASA's plan to fly crews on Orion/Ares 1 flight after only one unmanned test. The same (apparently) goes for the current plan for Orion/SLS. The ASAP's credibility suffers when they pursue contradictory and inconsistent paths such as this.

Roger Boisjoly

Roger Boisjoly, 73, Dies; Warned of Shuttle Danger, NY Times

"Six months before the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida on Jan. 28, 1986, Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. He warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle's huge rocket boosters could fail. "The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life," he wrote. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launching, killing its seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H."

Russia to postpone next manned space launch, AFP

"Krasnov said that delays came after the re-entry capsule of the Soyuz TMA-04M space ship to be used in the mission was shown in testing not to be hermetically sealed and could not be used for safety reasons. That means the next mission will have to replace it with the re-entry capsule intended for the following mission scheduled May 30, which in turn will be delayed."

NASA's Day of Remembrance

Photo: NASA Day of Remembrance Wreath Laying Ceremony

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA personnel, and others, participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration."

Statement by the President on NASA Day of Remembrance

"Today, our Nation is pursuing an ambitious path that honors these heroes, builds on their sacrifices, and promises to expand the limits of innovation as we venture farther into space than we have ever gone before. The men and women who lost their lives in the name of space exploration helped get us to this day, and it is our duty to honor them the way they would have wanted to be honored - by focusing our sights on the next horizon."

Statement by the Charles Bolden on NASA Day of Remembrance

"In the face of our greatest accomplishments, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement."

ROSAT re-entry, DLR

"Currently, the re-entry date can only be calculated to within plus/minus three days. This time slot of uncertainty will be reduced as the date of re-entry approaches. However, even one day before re-entry, the estimate will only be accurate to within plus/minus five hours. All areas under the orbit of ROSAT, which extends to 53 degrees northern and southern latitude could be affected by its re-entry. The bulk of the debris will impact near the ground track of the satellite. However, isolated fragments could fall to Earth in a 80 kilometre wide path along the track."

@DLR_en Tweet earlier today: Current prediction of #ROSAT re-entry: 20 to 25 October 2011

Final Update: NASA's UARS Re-enters Earth's Atmosphere

"NASA's decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth at 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT), as Friday, Sept. 23, turned to Saturday, Sept. 24 on the United States east coast. The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has determined the satellite entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean at 14.1 degrees south latitude and 189.8 degrees east longitude (170.2 west longitude). This location is over a broad, remote ocean area in the Southern Hemisphere, far from any major land mass. The debris field is located between 300 miles and 800 miles downrange, or generally northeast of the re-entry point. NASA is not aware of any possible debris sightings from this geographic area."

What Would NASA Do If A Soyuz Landed In America? (2003 - with NASA contingency plans), SpaceRef

"As was the case with a Shuttle accident, NASA (in cooperation with Russia) has developed plans for what to do in case of a contingency Soyuz landing in North America. Although the entire, final plan has not been made public, we can provide, for the first time, portions of the plan under development a year or so ago."

Keith's note: Although NASA has yet to get any more detailed impact data from the DoD, odds are that most if not all of the UARS that made it to the surface of Earth landed in the Pacific Ocean. But it could have also hit land. While the statistics are on the side of no one getting hurt (or close to being hurt), the risk is not Zero. Skylab's impact taught us that. What would have happened if large pieces of UARS smashed into a populated area? NASA would have had little warning perhaps a few hours at most.

Does NASA have a quick reaction team in place to deal with events such as this? The answer no - not for crashing satellites. There are several partial exceptions: the contingency plan in place (and activated) during the loss of Columbia and also, as is seen in this article I wrote in 2003, in case a Soyuz lands in North America. While these documents were in draft form a decade ago, they do show that someone was thinking of how to mobilize a lot of people fast and what they needed to be thinking about. But clearly these lessons learned have not been shared across the agency.

Oh yes, the 2,400 kg ROSAT satellite, launched by the U.S. for Germany in 1990 is going to be making an uncontrolled reentry in the next month or two. Pieces are likely to survive reentry and reach the Earth's surface. ROSAT's orbital inclination is 53 degrees. UARS orbited at 57 degrees. So, a similar swath of the Earth's surface will be exposed to the non-zero possibility of being hit.

According to "Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space" The U.S. as the "launching authority" bears at lest some responsibility for any damage ROSAT's reentry may cause. Maybe its time that NASA gets its act together and comes up with a plan. Space junk re-enters every day. Sooner or later someone is going to have a bad day.

NASA's dead satellite falls, starting over Pacific, AP

"NASA's dead 6-ton satellite plunged to Earth early Saturday, but more than eight hours later, U.S. space officials didn't know just where it hit."

Jonathan's Space Report No. 647 2011 Sep 25

"I would have expected the DSP missile early warning satellites to have detected infrared radiation from the entry - they do keep a close watch on the eastern Pacific in case of a submarine-launched missile attack on the US. It is a bit surprising to me that there's apparently no information from that source - or at least none that's been admitted."

Keith's note: This is just a little too odd. Something this large, with a demise so widely anticipated well in advance, the subject of international coordination among space agencies - and no one knows where it hit? NASA declined to have someone from the DoD (Joint Space Operations Center - JSpOC) on its weekend teleconference - yet NASA's expert, Nick Johnson, repeatedly claimed that the effort to track the satellite's reentry was a "success". When asked (by me) about the used of the term "success" in the media telecon, NASA PAO's Beth Dickey blocked Johnson from answering.

I find it rather unlikely that DoD/Intelligence "assets" in orbit and on the ground were unable to track and pinpoint the demise of UARS. Videos taken from locations that were along the UARS' final ground track have appeared on YouTube but NASA says nothing about them. 36 60 hours after the reentry of UARS and neither NASA or JSpOC have still said anything more definitive about its impact site or the veracity of videos and other sightings. The FAA issued a NOTAM for the UARS re-entry that asks pilots to report anything they might see with regard to UARS. The FAA has not responded as to whether any reports were received.

There is more to this story than NASA is willing/able to discuss.

UARS Reentry Update

Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite Reentry Update #6 Wed, 21 Sep 2011 08:03:34 AM EDT

"As of Sept. 21, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 120 mi by 130 mi (195 km by 210 km). Re-entry is expected Sept. 23, United States time. The time reference does not mean that the satellite is expected to re-enter over the United States. It is simply a time reference. Although it is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry, predictions of the time period are becoming more refined."

Russian Federation unwilling to allow Space X demonstration,

"Vladimir Solovyov, head of the Russian segment of the ISS mission control center made a statement on Friday that Space X will not be granted docking permission to dock its Dragon spacecraft at the International Space Station (ISS) during a planned test flight on or around November 30, 2011."

@NASA: "Sorry, despite @ria_novosti reports, a decision has yet to be made regarding the upcoming @SpaceXer test flight to ISS. Incorrect story."

Keith's note: I suspect that this is yet another case of bad translation from Russian to English and/orRussian bluffing and/or a negotiating tactic for more money. They have done this before.

Space Satellite UARS Adrift and Heading for Earth, ABC

"A nearly 6-ton satellite is heading toward Earth and could crash into the planet as early as Sept. 23, NASA officials said."

Keep Sept. 23 open: A satellite is heading our way, CBS

"NASA has been watching the 6-ton satellite closely. On Friday officials moved up their prediction for its arrival to Sept. 23, give or take a day. Scientists have calculated that the satellite, named the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, will break into 26 pieces as it gets closer to Earth. The agency will offer the public more detailed information early next week."

NASA Studying Shuttle Retrieval of Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) (2001)

"EVA Project Office personnel supported a concept review for the possible Space Shuttle retrieval of the UARS on May 3, 2001. At this point, several different options are still under consideration. The mission would require at least one scheduled EVA to secure various deployable components on the spacecraft. UARS was originally designed to be compatible with EVA operations, so most of the tasks appear to be feasible. An EVA splinter meeting is scheduled for May 10, 2001, to further discuss the EVA requirements for this proposed mission."

NASA Needs Strategic Plan to Manage Orbital Debris Efforts; Risks Increasing for Satellites, Space Station, National Research Council

"Although NASA's meteoroid and orbital debris programs have responsibly used their resources, the agency's management structure has not kept pace with increasing hazards posed by abandoned equipment, spent rocket bodies, and other debris orbiting the Earth, says a new report by the National Research Council. NASA should develop a formal strategic plan to better allocate resources devoted to the management of orbital debris. In addition, removal of debris from the space environment or other actions to mitigate risks may be necessary."

Space station could be at risk if crews are forced to leave temporarily, USA Today

"NASA International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffred says evacuation is a distinct possibility in mid-November if Russian Soyuz rockets are not flying, writes Florida Today's Todd Halvorson. Past NASA risk assessment shows a one in 10 chance of losing the station within six months if there is no crew aboard to handle critical system failures. That soars to a 50% proability if it remains crewless for a year, the newspaper says."

Upcoming flights to and from space station face delays, CNET

"It's not a trivial thing," Suffredini said. "If you look at...risk assessments, some of the numbers are not insignificant. There is a greater risk of losing the ISS when it is unmanned than if it were manned. That's why, when we made our decision after the Columbia accident to keep the station manned, that is exactly why, because the risk increase is not insignificant."

NASA Names Terry Wilcutt Agency Safety Chief

"Terrence W. Wilcutt has been appointed NASA's chief of safety and mission assurance, effective Sept. 1. Wilcutt is a retired Marine colonel and veteran astronaut who is serving as director of safety and mission assurance at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He will assume the post from Bryan O'Connor, who will retire from the agency on Aug. 31. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the appointment Tuesday."

Monopolizing ISS Access

Russian space agency won't let private US spacecraft dock with ISS until reliability proven, AP

"Russian news agencies are quoting a top space official as saying Russia won't permit a U.S. commercial spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station until it is satisfied the ship conforms to safety standards. The California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has asked NASA for permission to send an unmanned cargo capsule to the space station later this year. The hookup also would need Russian clearance."

Keith's note: What a great way to continue a monopoly on access to the ISS. Curiously, the "digital" Soyuz was allowed to dock despite its ongoing problems.

Software and Risk

A Not-So-Simple Truth, Wayne Hale

"February is a month for introspection for me, and the events of 8 years ago have been on my mind. In the Columbia accident investigation report, there are several pages devoted to the use of a computer program called "Crater" which analyzed potential damage to the thermal tiles. The results provided from that computer program indicated that no serious damage had been done to Columbia's tiles and therefore a safe landing would occur. Disaster occurred instead."

CertifyingSoyuz, Wayne Hale

"So as new human certification ratings are proposed, they rely heavily on new standards and specifications, requirements for analysis, engineering calculation, computer simulation, piece-part testing and just a little bit on flight demonstration. Of course, the Shuttle and the Soyuz don't comply with those standards; they were built in different times with more primitive standards. But they demonstrate a level of reliability or safety that is apparently acceptable. If someone were to build their own spacecraft and/or launch vehicle; fly it successfully many times, demonstrate its capabilities in actual flight; then I suspect the new human rating requirements would be tossed aside in favor of demonstrated actual flight performance."

- Soyuz Procurement That Falls Short of NASA's Own Commercial Crew Requirements, earlier post
- NASA Releases LEO Commercial Crew Certification Requirements, earlier post

Final Memorandum Assessing Launch Services Program's Interim Response Team Training Requirements

"While the mishap plans we reviewed appropriately identified roles and responsibilities for managing contingency actions, NASA has not established training requirements for Interim Response Team members. In addition, we found that training requirements for Interim Response Team members in the Launch Services Program's mishap plan were inconsistent with mishap plans developed by Kennedy Space Center, the Science Mission Directorate, and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. We also determined that none of the 16 safety and mission assurance personnel assigned as Kennedy Interim Response Team members during the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LRO/LCROSS) launch missions had completed all of the required training included in the mission-specific mishap plans, and only 3 of the 16 had completed the "Introduction to Mishap Investigations" training course required by the Kennedy Mishap Plan."

FAA, NASA Vie for Authority Over Commercial Space Safety, WS Journal

"Congress hasn't yet voted on White House proposals to outsource manned space flights to private enterprise, but the concept already is prompting a bureaucratic tussle over which federal agency should be responsible for ensuring the safety of such flights. The Federal Aviation Administration believes it should be the agency in charge, while National Aeronautics and Space Administration believes the flights fall under its jurisdiction. The dispute came into public view Thursday during a hearing of a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee. The panel's chairman, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, home to thousands of NASA jobs, indicated that he views the space agency as the final arbiter of astronaut safety."

Obama Plans Florida Forum to Discuss NASA's Future, NY Times

"Joseph R. Fragola, a safety consultant, said the review had found no critical flaws for Constellation. "Money is the problem," he said. "It's not technical."

- More Inconsistencies From the Ares 1 Risk Guru, earlier post
- Hanley Changes His Story On Ares 1 Safety - Again, earlier post

Human Rating A Spacecraft

Wayne Hale's Blog: Human Rating A Spacecraft

"Recently you may have heard about former astronaut Scott Parazynski's adventure to climb Mt. Everest. He carried a sliver of a moon rock from Apollo 11 with him, and then picked up a sliver of a rock from the top of the highest mountain in the world. These two rocks were encased in plastic, handed over to NASA, and flew aboard the space shuttle to be installed in the new Tranquility module of the International Space Station. All very inspiring and good.

Now for the rest of the story."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases Annual Report

"The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, or ASAP, a congressionally mandated group of independent experts established after the 1967 Apollo 1 fire, has released its 2009 annual report."

ASAP Public Meeting First Quarter 2009, page 5-6: "Acknowledging that General Bolden raised an important point, Admiral Dyer commented that the ASAP would recommend almost a new communications genesis. The ASAP suggested that the new Administration and the in-bound Administrator take time to consider a new approach that would explain not only the level and range of risk associated with space exploration, but also the importance of the work, the reward that justifies the risk, and the acceptance of that risk by willing and knowledgeable astronauts. The public discourse thus would be more direct and clearer, with less interpretation required. General Bolden agreed, contending that American citizens can handle difficult issues, so NASA should quit treating them as if they are children who do not understand, instead bringing them in as partners."

Keith's note: Wow. If Bolden means to attempt to do this as Administrator, this would be quite an astonishing accomplishment i.e. treating "American citizens as partners" in what NASA does - and how it does it. Go for it Charlie.

James Cameron: The Lessons of Titanic and other Reflections, Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and Sky" NASA Administrator's Symposium

"So my message is in whichever realm, be it going into space or going into the deep sea, you have to balance the yin and yang of caution and boldness, risk aversion and risk taking, fear and fearlessness. No great accomplishment takes place, whether it be a movie or a deep ocean expedition, or a space mission, without a kind of dynamic equipoise between the two. Luck is not a factor. Hope is not a strategy. Fear is not an option."

PETA Protests NASA Plan to Radiate Monkeys, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

"A man in an astronaut suit stood outside the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Thursday morning. Normal enough, given the contents of the building before him. But he was not promoting an exhibit, nor was he affiliated with the museum. He and a group of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activists were brandishing signs and distributing pamphlets protesting a NASA program."

Prepared Statements

Gabrielle Giffords
Bretton Alexander
Joseph Fragola
Jeff Hanley
John Marshall
Bryan O'Connor
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Stafford

House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Hearing Ensuring the Safety of Human Space Flight

Keith's note: The hearing was held today, 2 December 2009 from 10:00a.m. -12:00p.m. EST. NASA TV will rebroadcast the House Science & Technology hearing on spaceflight safety at 2 p.m.and 7 p.m. EST at

Astronaut-safety hearing becomes pro-Constellation rally, Orlando Sentinel

"A congressional hearing on astronaut safety turned into a pep rally for NASA's troubled Constellation moon-rocket program, with lawmakers and witnesses endorsing it as the best replacement for the space shuttle even as critics complained the hearing was one-sided. ... The one-sided panel of witnesses didn't escape the notice of U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. "I think that we did need a little more diversity on the panel," he said. "When people like myself are probing ... we [need] to have someone there who would keep everybody honest."

Badge Update

NASA's PIV project didn't meet fed rules

"NASA's Office of Inspector General released a report stating that the agency didn't fully comply with federal regulations for the issuance of PIV credentials. As of January, NASA had issued more than 70,000 credentials to staff and contractors, more than 98% of the PIV cards NASA planned to issue. The problem is the credential issuer had not been accredited because NASA did not fully comply with federal guidance. If NASA's PIV issuer reveals that the problems still exits the agency could be required to stop issuing credentials and reissue other cards at a minimum of a $1 million cost."

NASA's Processes for Providing Personal Identity Verification Cards Were Not Completely Effective in Meeting Federal Requirements, NASA OIG

"As of January 9, 2009, NASA had issued more than 70,000 PIV cards to staff and contractors, more than 98 percent of the PIV cards NASA planned to issue, from a PIV card issuer that had not been accredited because NASA did not fully comply with Federal guidance."

Earlier HSPD-12 stories
Earlier security badge stories
HQ Security Fumbles Again
WARNING: NASA Badges Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

ASAP Report Released

NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Releases Annual Report

"The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, or ASAP, has released its 2007 Annual Report. The report examines NASA's safety performance and advises the agency on ways to better that performance."

NASA safety panel worries about moon ship design, AP

"NASA is not properly emphasizing safety in its design of a new spaceship and its return-to-the-moon program faces money, morale and leadership problems, an agency safety panel found Monday. The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel cited "surprising anxiety among NASA employees" about the Constellation moon program and said the project "lacks clear direction." Its 143-page annual report specifically faulted the agency's design of the Orion crew capsule for not putting safety features first."

Internal NASA Documents Give Clues to Scary Soyuz Return Flight, IEEE Spectrum

"Although the technical investigation will take weeks to resolve, NASA and Russian engineers have come to several credible preliminary conclusions. And internal NASA documents, such as "15S Ballistic Entry Outbrief" by George Kafka, chief of the Safety & Mission Assurance Directorate for the ISS program, reveal a plausible idea of what probably happened."

Man Kills Hostage, Self at NASA Building, AP

"The gunman was able to take a snub-nosed revolver past NASA security and barricade himself in the building, which houses communications and tracking systems for the space shuttle, authorities said."

Editor's note: The more I think about this, the more I can't fight the urge to comment. Someone drove onto JSC property with A LOADED GUN and KILLED SOMEONE. This happened days after the Virginia Tech slaughter and NASA is now going to re-evalute its security polices? Gee, it's about damn time, Mr. Saleeba. Something sure ain't working properly. The word incompetence (on someone's part) comes to mind. Metal detectors have been known to detect guns. Car searches have been known to find prohibited items. More importantly, people are under enormous stress at NASA these days with programs being shut down and many people certain to loose their jobs. Someone needs to be paying much more attention to this as well. Treating the symptoms is not enough. NASA to needs to recognize - and threat - the cause(s) as well.

Comments? Send them to

One note: for those of you who are utterly convinced that additional screening and metal detectors could never work at NASA, I invite you to come up to Washington DC. Everywhere you go there are security scans and detectors. It has been like this for years - even before 9-11. Indeed, everyday every single visitor to the National Air and Space Museum goes through a metal detector and has their bags searched. That's tens of thousands of people every day - and most of these visitors are novices in terms of being scanned and searched. Alas, even though there are metal detectors at NASA HQ entrances, regular (badged) employees are not required to go through them. Only visitors are. NASA has the tools in place but only uses them to partial effect.

As for all of you who are dumping on me for suggesting that every person entering JSC be screened and and their car searched every day, guess what? I never said that! Read this post again. But since you folks seem to want to discuss that topic, I wonder what would be easier to do: screen every one entering a facility - with one landlord - a facility with vast amounts of land, large parking lots, and a small number of controlled campus entrances (JSC) -- or -- scan the same number of people entering hundreds of government offices and buildings every day in Washington, DC. It is not impossible, folks. You just do not want to be inconvenienced in the same way that we are up here in Washington every day - and that is certainly understandable. Alas, everyone seems to be trying to out do the previous person in saying how impossible enhanced screening would be at NASA. I am also rather startled that so many responses suggest that nothing can be done and that it should simply be assumed - and accepted - that people can - and will - carry guns to work at JSC.

Your comments thus far:

The Curious Use of Combination Locks By NASA During Space Shuttle Missions, SpaceRef

"Given the recent problems Lisa Nowak experienced - problems that emerged only months after she flew on a Space Shuttle mission - questions have arisen as to how NASA might deal with an individual who exhibited problems during a mission - as well as how to catch such problems on the ground ahead of time.

The following interview was conducted with NASA's Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer, astronaut Bryan O'Connor in April 2006 - a few months before Lisa Nowak's space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. As such, his thoughts certainly represent his recent thinking about safety.

As such, it is somewhat disconcerting to read a recollection wherein O'Connor talks about adding a combination lock to Space Shuttle Columbia's middeck hatch on STS-40 in 1991 due to concerns over the competency of several payload specialists. Moreover, he repeats several times that he thought this whole story was "humorous" and "funny"."

Making Risky Decisions

NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting: Who Decides About Taking On Risk?

"Griffin sees no institutional element as having veto power; he is not willing to cede the authority of the administrator to any single organization or manager. He does not want to put the Agency is the position where it can be brought to a halt by a single manager whose risk tolerance is out of bounds with the rest of the leadership. Griffin is not limiting the question to astronauts. He posed the question: how does NASA decide whether an activity will or will not be authorized?"

NESC Break Up Begins

NASA Announces New Cleveland Safety Center

"The center will complement the NASA Engineering and Safety Center based at Langley. Both centers will support safety but have separate and independent supervisory chains to ensure consideration of various points of view about technically complex issues. The Cleveland center will report to the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Headquarters, Washington."

Editor's update: This strikes me as a reversal of the initial intent of the NESC - one derived from CAIB recomendations. Its almost as if NASA is now redistributing the singular, focused safety role away from the NESC back out to field centers - where that expertise came from in the first place. Not only does NASA have NESC in a position to duel with programs and centers over safety, it has set the stage for two separate field-centered based "independent" safety organizations to duel with each other - and, in so doing, diminishing the singular, independent role that NESC could have played.

Reader Comments:

Editor's note: In response to a request by NASA Watch three weeks ago, NASA has posted the following Contingency Shuttle Crew Support (CSCS) (Safe Haven) Documents on its website:

  • CSCS/Rescue Flight Resource Book (2.3 MB PDF)
  • STS-121 CSCS Capbility Report (104 Kb PDF)
  • CSCS Flight Rules (36 Kb PDF)
  • Calculating Risk

    NASA Says Shuttle Risk Overstated; Yet Some Risk Unavoidable, Popular Mechanics

    "NASA's official overall probability risk assessment number (PRAN) for complete loss of life and vehicle for the Space Shuttle remains at the widely quoted 1/100. Theoretically, there's a one percent chance of catastrophe. While the agency stresses that Space Shuttle flights are extremely dangerous missionssending humans into space always isofficials worry that the risk has been overstated. According to NASA, in practice, it's not as bad as it sounds."

    NASA International Space Station Independent Safety Task Force Meeting

    "The agenda for the meeting includes the following topics: --Presentations related to the IISTF's charter to assessing any vulnerabilities of the ISS that could lead to its destruction, compromise the health of its crew, or necessitate its premature abandonment."

    ISS End of Life Disposal (7 April 1999)

    New Book on Space Exploration and Astronaut Safety, AIAA

    "Part history, part technology and part policy analysis, Space Exploration and Astronaut Safety, a new book by Joseph N. Pelton, reviews the history of NASA's space exploration program, its astronaut safety program, the present status of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station ..."

    Editor's note: I just hope Pelton has spent a little more time on the technical research aspect of this book than was done for the sloppy papers he and his colleagues presented on exactly the same topic back in 2004/2005.

    How to Waste $300,000, NASA Watch

    "The report makes heavy reliance upon newspaper and trade publication articles. Indeed, with the exception of several GAO reports, there are no technical references whatsoever upon which the report arrives at its findings and recommendations."

    SEAS Receives $300,000 Grant to Study Astronaut Safety, George Washington University

    Draft Paper Provides Insight Into NASA Space Policy Options, SpaceRef

    Safety Chief at Odds With NASA, AP

    "NASA's public affairs office - which earlier this year was accused by top global warming scientist of trying to muzzle his media interviews - said on Monday that O'Connor and Scolese would not talk to the media about their objections. NASA chief spokesman Dean Acosta said it was a decision by the two men. He released a two-paragraph statement and said O'Connor and Scolese "composed it together." O'Connor, who readily agreed to a 20-minute phone interview, said the statement was actually written by the public affairs office and approved by the two officials."

    Editor's note: Either Bryan O'Connor changed his mind about talking to the press, or PAO misled the media into thinking that O'Connor was not interested in talking. But wait - O'Connor and Scolese refused to talk with CBS on Monday:

    Opposition to flight hinges on risk to shuttle, not crew, SpaceflightNow

    "Both men declined requests for interviews Monday by CBS News."

    STS-121 FRR Materials

    Editor's note: According to reporters I have spoken with on Monday afternoon, NASA PAO has received a number of interview requests for both Bryan O'Connor and Chris Scolese with regard to their "no go" stance at the recent STS-121 Flight Readiness Review. NASA PAO has turned down these interview requests saying either that O'Connor and Scolese are not available to speak or that they have both specifically declined the invitation to speak with the media. This is rather odd.

    June 29, 1997
    Mr. Frederick D. Gregory
    Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission Assurance
    NASA Headquarters
    Washington, DC 20564-0001

    Dear Fred:

    Thank you so much for the kind words in your letter of June 24, 1997 and the exceptionally nice Bohemian crystal bowl that accompanied it. I have placed it on my desk in a prominent place where I can enjoy its beauty as I am working. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness and the effort you made in sending me this most delightful award.

    Since I do not get to see you or communicate with you on a regular basis anymore, I would like to take this opportunity to mention something that I believe is of serious importance to NASA, and the Human Spaceflight Safety and Mission Assurance Program. I am sure that the current crisis in the Mir program is probably foremost in your mind. I am extremely concerned about the safety risks associated with continued operation of the Phase I Shuttle/Mir Program. There already have been two incidents this year where the crew has been placed in a basic survival situation. The Mir station is clearly showing significant degradation as it continues to operate beyond its design lifetime. In addition, the decline in the basic infrastructure of the Russian Space Program been well documented in numerous publications, and even in public statements by some Russian space officials.

    When NASA originally began the Shuttle/Mir Program, no rigorous safety analysis or risk analysis was accomplished. NASA decided based on the then understood historical performance of safe Mir operations to accept that record as a given. This was done by a subjective review process unlike the systematic safety and reliability analytical techniques utilized for U.S. human spaceflight. If you remember, at that time the Russians were not always forthright about their systems failures or some of the problems they had in the past. The decision was made at the highest levels of NASA, and the formal safety analysis that was established for the Phase I Program was only for the new joint operations activities, new experiments, and new procedures. The acceptance of the existing Mir safety record was driven by management judgment, and therefore for formal and structured documented risk baseline exists for the start of the program. It should be very clear to everyone that the risk level to human safety on the Mir Station has increased somewhat since the early management decisions and agreements were made.

    The question becomes, what is the present risk to human safety in this program as the Mir ages and its systems continue to fail and degrade in capability, and as the Russian space program support infrastructure changes as well? What are the expectations for the risk levels to continue to change with time over the planned lifetime of Phase 1 Program? What is the current risk level as compared with the subjectively determined risk level at the start of the Program? NASA has participated in the Mir program with a lower standard as far as Safety and Mission Assurance assessment processes are concerned, and I believe that the risk levels for human safety to be somewhat higher as well. The most important and cogent question is whether the expected benefits of continued operation justify the increasing risk to human safety that are apparent with current operations on the Shuttle/Mir Phase 1 Program.

    Review of Issues Associated with Safe Operation and Management of the Space Shuttle Program, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel

    November 1996


    At the request of the President of the United States through the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the NASA Administrator tasked the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel with the responsibility to identify and review issues associated with the safe operation and management of the Space Shuttle program arising from ongoing efforts to improve and streamline operations. These efforts include the consolidation of operations under a single Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC), downsizing the Space Shuttle workforce and reducing costs of operations and management.



    Monthly Archives

    About this Archive

    This page is an archive of recent entries in the Safety category.

    Russia is the previous category.

    Security is the next category.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.