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posted by martyb on Thursday January 20, @02:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the sls-spice-must-flow dept.

NASA safety panel recommends agency review how it manages human spaceflight programs

[...] The shift to commercial crew transportation has created some specific issues in the last year mentioned in the report. The panel cited a "concerning dissonance" between NASA and SpaceX during preparations for the Crew-1 landing last May. The two organizations "differed in their understanding of the level of risk to be incurred" regarding a nighttime landing of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA initially preferring a daytime landing as the lowest risk option. SpaceX argued that a nighttime landing was acceptable and offered better sea state conditions than the proposed daytime landing. The report stated that "last-minute communications had been necessary to ensure NASA approved the plans for the night landing."

There was also a difference of opinion between NASA and Boeing involving the risk of stuck propulsion valves on the company's CST-100 Starliner that delayed an uncrewed test flight last summer. Boeing evaluated the risk as low, the panel said, while NASA considered it moderate during a flight readiness review. That review, the panel concluded, "revealed NASA and Boeing do not share a common understanding of how to assess and characterize risk."

[...] The panel also took issue with the "disaggregated" way NASA's exploration efforts are organized. That structure treats the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems as separate programs, which the panel attributes to the uncertain direction of the agency's exploration programs after the cancellation of the Constellation program more than a decade ago.

Among the panel's recommendations was to create an integrated Artemis program led by a single manager "endowed with authority, responsibility, and accountability" along with a bottoms-up approach to systems engineering and integration as well as risk management. NASA sometimes refers to an "Artemis program" today, the panel noted, but without the formal program architecture that risks "confusing both employees and contractors about who is ultimately responsible and accountable."

It might help NASA if Congress would stop treating it like a jobs program.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Thursday January 20, @04:26PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @04:26PM (#1214205) Journal
    • Don't trust anything that Boeing says
    • Fully trust what SpaceX says

    I would point out that SpaceX sure makes it look easy. Has an amazing track record at this point. High reliability. Reused boosters are more reliable track record than new boosters. The last several launches have been on boosters that were flying their 10th launch. Have recovered 103 orbital class boosters. I could go on, but . . .

    Boeing has multiple royal screw ups on its starliner capsule demo. Even their do-over was a major pooch screw. In their aviation department the 737-MAX was also a major pooch screw.

    Now I'm not suggesting that SpaceX should have blind trust. Verify everything. But SpaceX sure does make the extremely difficult look like it is easy and routine.

    --
    Out of control 3 yr old grabs steering wheel of limosuine and throws food against wall in temper tantrum.
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