Mission Assurance Standards and Capabilities Division Director
Dr. Matthew “Matt” Forsbacka is the Mission Assurance Standards and Capabilities Division director, responsible for the development and maintenance of NASA directives and standards pertaining to SMA, as well as related methods, tools and guidance.
Previously, Forsbacka served as the Nuclear Flight Safety Assurance Manager (NFSAM) for the Safety and Requirements Division of the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA). He was responsible for reviewing the Nuclear Launch Safety Approval Requests submitted by programs and projects that plan to launch radioactive material in space. In this role, he also coordinated ad hoc Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panels, which evaluate the risk to the public and environment for any mission containing radioactive materials above the prescribed threshold. Forsbacka also was the OSMA representative for the Nuclear Systems, Space Radiation and Space Protection Working Groups.
Forsbacka also previously served as the Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) program executive. As the program executive for MMOD, Forsbacka was responsible for program execution of NASA’s Procedural Requirements for limiting Orbital Debris.
Forsbacka did a detail at NASA Glenn Research Center as chairman of the Standing Review Board for NASA’s Radioisotope Power Systems program. As chairman, he led review teams that report findings to Glenn’s Center Management Council, the leadership of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (Planetary Science Division) at NASA Headquarters, the NASA administrator and the NASA Agency Program Management Council. He presented issues and proposed solutions to NASA senior management.
In addition, Forsbacka was a lecturer at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. He developed the “Innovative Reactor Design” course for the master’s degree in nuclear engineering, which he then taught. He also taught “Verification and Validation of Systems Engineering Projects” and “Reactor and Radiation Measurements Laboratory.”
Prior to his current role, Forsbacka was an engineering supervisor for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. In this role, he led a group of Subject Matter Expert engineers in the fields of nuclear, mechanical, electrical, seismic, structural, civil and materials engineering that perform safety reviews of major DOE projects at all phases of the life cycle throughout design and construction. Projects included Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site, and the Permanent Ventilation System for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In this role, he also was responsible for strategic planning and program development within his area of responsibility as well as for the implementation of review plans conducted by the technical staff. This involved developing, reviewing and providing proposed program requirements for safety oversight activities, as well as projections of expected results and budgetary/resource estimates. He reviewed and approved staff work products before submission to the presidentially-appointed board members for action in advising the secretary of energy on safety issues.
Before joining the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, Forsbacka worked for the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection branch. Here he served as the deputy assistant director, a position in which he led a group of 40 senior engineers and scientists to develop anti-terrorism and radiological emergency response nuclear detection systems for use by the Department of Homeland Security law enforcement officers responsible for securing U.S. borders and coastal regions.
Forsbacka also has a history of working for NASA, having been the program executive for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from 2005 to 2007. He was responsible for all aspects of NASA Headquarters’ mission oversight of this project. Prior to that role, he was the acting director for the Prometheus nuclear systems technology, responsible for all cross-discipline efforts in nuclear power and propulsion technologies for NASA. He also was the program manager for nuclear systems and the program executive for fission systems.
As a captain in the U.S. Air Force, Forsbacka held various roles, which included program manager for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, master instructor of physics for the U.S. Naval Academy and reactor operations supervisor for the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute.
Forsbacka has a doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Virginia and both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Florida. Forsbacka resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife and three daughters and is an avid bicycle commuter.