NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel's annual report + some commentary

January 10, 2013 1:51 am Eastern | by Clark Lindsey, Managing Editor

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has released its 2012 Annual Report (pdf).

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Comments (9)

Rand Simberg
10th January 2013 1:05pm
Charles Lurio
It sounds to me like the ASAP wants the default approach to be the NASA-traditional, government rules approach for everybody. - No flights to those Bigelow stations, because they won't be up there, because all will have to follow NASA rules, private or public, for human transport to orbit. Yes, Clark, I hear what I've been concerned about for years once again - that NASA the all-knowing will become the "certifier" of all craft for all orbital uses, to heck with the FAA. Suborbital was never Read More
10th January 2013 10:57am
ASAP also advocates that the phase 2 certification contracts be cost plus. They think cost plus is safer... Commercial crew detractors are no longer opponents, they now say that they have "concerns" and the best way to fix these concerns is by ensuring that commercial crew is not commercial (i.e. it needs more oversight from NASA).
10th January 2013 9:30am
Rick Boozer
Well said Clark. But there is another aspect of this matter that occurs to me and it's kind of scary. Do you think that ASAP is fanagling to try to get Congress to come up with a law giving ASAP control of safety standards for BOTH NASA and private commercial flights?
10th January 2013 4:54am
Bennett In Vermont
I echo Rick's concern, and his praise of your analysis.
10th January 2013 6:41am
Clark S. Lindsey
ASAP itself is just an advisory group so they don't control safety standards. Not sure if NASA is even required to respond to ASAP recommendations specifically in an official manner. However, I do hear an implicit suggestion in the report that there should not be separate NASA and FAA rules on commercial spaceflight. It would be a mess if "certification" by NASA was required of any commercial orbital system even if they are not flying NASA personnel. If there is an early accident, I could see Read More
10th January 2013 8:32am
Clark, Is there a way by which a company could keep out of court by getting sufficient consent from its astronauts re: the risk they are taking and perhaps by choosing its astronauts carefully?
10th January 2013 11:00am
Clark S. Lindsey
Informed consent is currently the primary requirement for "spaceflight participants" on commercial space transports. When they sign the consent forms, they are accepting that they are not mere passengers but are engaging in a risky activity just like parachuting or hang-gliding. With the crazy civil liability system in the US, however, consent forms can often be surmounted by clever lawyers. That's why it has been important to get spaceport states to pass additional liability limitation Read More
10th January 2013 11:41am
Tom Billings
Given the current legal climate, it is almost certain that an accident will result in legal fees for both vehicle and operating companies. A more useful question would be how much signed agreements can mitigate these costs. Unfortunately, until we actually run such cases through the courts, that is likely to be a subjective judgement.
10th January 2013 12:07pm
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