Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unclear mission is NASA safety panel's top concern

NASA's unclear new direction is increasing the risk to future spaceflight missions, the agency's independent safety panel reported today.

"Clearly, uncertainty is driving the safety risk factor to a higher level, as it does in any endeavor," NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, or ASAP, writes in its 2010 annual report. "Space travel's significant challenges merely heighten the exposure and the consequences."

Read the the report here.

Formed in 1968 after the Apollo 1 fire, the eight-member ASAP is now chaired by retired Navy Vice Adm. Joe Dyer.

The new annual report cites concern that an unclear exploration mission will make it harder to retain key personnel and hold on to lessons learned from past accidents.

It says many questions remain about how the agency will work with commercial partners to fly astronauts to low Earth orbit, including "How safe is safe enough?" for commercially operated launch vehicles.

Solving the problem "clearly is on the shoulders of" the Obama administration and Congress, not just NASA, according to the report.

"A key point has been made by each Center that the ASAP has visited over this past year - the lack of guidance, clarity, and mission has increased the potential for risk, negative consequences to the workforce, and additional expense resulting from duplicative efforts or efforts that are ultimately determined to be unnecessary due to a change of course," the report says. "In the ASAP’s view, it is not in the Nation’s best interest to continue functioning in this manner."


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Graham (from england) said...
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