Improving Mishap Investigations for Human Spaceflight

Improving Mishap Investigations for Human Spaceflight

1-minute read
Commercial Crew Astronauts

After each of NASA’s major mishaps — Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia — the agency investigated the mishap and applied findings to future flights. As spaceflight became safer with the implementation of the lessons learned, mishap investigations also improved from each experience. With NASA preparing to fly three new crewed space vehicles in the coming years, clear understanding of the Mishap Investigation process with regards to Human Spaceflight and the underlying authorities and legal landscape of these investigations becomes paramount.

Human Spaceflight Mishap Investigations: Enabling a Better Model for Future NASA and Commercial Investigations,” explores the changing and challenging dynamics of these investigations in the context of the expanding roles of organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board in the new commercial spaceflight world.

“The player group is expanding with regards to who would be involved in an investigation should a mishap occur in the future,” said Gerry Schumann, NASA program executive for Mishap Investigation and co-author of the article. “It’s not just NASA anymore, or even government organizations — we have commercial partners who will be involved in Human Spaceflight. Even within the government world, there are sometimes overlapping authorities. A solid understanding of who is in charge of what in various scenarios will be crucial in assuring an efficient and successful investigation should a mishap ever occur again.”

Learn more about the legal authorities governing mishap investigations in the article.