The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, an advisory committee that reports to NASA and Congress, has released its 2013 annual report examining NASA’s safety performance over the past year and highlighting issues and concerns to agency and government officials.
The report released Jan. 15 is based on the panel’s 2013 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.
“This year’s annual report centers on risk, risk management, accountability, and transparency,” said panel chairman Joseph W. Dyer. “The panel notes that in pursuit of a U.S. capability to launch humans into space, and in light of constrained budgets, an argument to accept additional risk could be rationally put forward. The ASAP underscores the need to speak transparently about risk and reward. Acceptable risk needs to be formally accepted, made accountable, and explained to the NASA team, Congress, and the public.”
The 2013 report highlights:
— Commercial Crew Program
— Exploration Systems Development
— Funding Uncertainty
— International Space Station (ISS)
— Technical Authority
— Risk Management
The panel reported significant progress has been made in improving safety related to the International Space Station by implementing measures to mitigate the risk of damage to the station from micrometeoroid and orbital debris, as well as planning for the end-of-life and deorbit of the station.
The panel was most pleased to report NASA has clearly articulated changes to the technical authority process, in which technical experts apply their specific expertise to resolve questions and concerns, and is in the process of implementing them. The panel recommended NASA fully adopt these changes without delay.
Congress established the panel in 1968 to provide advice and make recommendations to the NASA administrator on safety matters after the Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of three American astronauts in 1967.
For more information about the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel and to view the 2013 report, visit http://oiir.hq.nasa.gov/asap/index.html.