OSMA Releases Significant NPR 8705.4A Updates

OSMA Releases Significant NPR 8705.4A Updates

3-minute read

NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) made significant updates to NPR 8705.4, Risk Classification for NASA Payloads, effective April 29. 2021. OSMA updated the policy to reflect changes in risk acceptance and Technical Authority concurrence policies, to formalize and shorten the timeline for the risk classification process, to provide clearer and earlier documentation of the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) implementation approach, and (most importantly) better align stakeholder and implementer expectations.

“This has been a two-year journey,” said Tony Diventi, Reliability and Maintainability Technical Fellow. “Many people from across the agency contributed much time and effort to the development of this document.”

NPR 8705.4A establishes the role of Mission Directorates (MDs) based on the type and amount of risk that leaders are willing to accept. The policy provides the basis for establishing a risk classification that, in turn, establishes the risk tolerance programs and projects use to define acceptable risk.

Key Changes

  1. Incorporated related policies: OSMA added essential elements of NPD 8700.1, NASA Policy for Safety and Mission Success; NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements; and 8705.2, Human-Rating Requirements for Space Systems. The updates are meant to define a clear hierarchy from the NPD to NPR to objective-driven standards that define the life cycle activities.
  2. Reorganized and consolidated the risk classification process: The chart in the new Appendix C includes a set of primary considerations that are easier to navigate. It’s the MD Associate Administrator’s responsibility to determine the appropriate risk classification that is documented in Key Decision Point, Life Cycle Phase B (i.e., KDP-B), decision memorandum. It is KDP-B that serves as the transition from the concept and technology development phase to the preliminary design and technology completion phase.
  3. Restructured the objects-driven requirements: The presentation of requirements are more hierarchically defined and include various SMA topics and subdomains, identify overall objectives from an SMA perspective, define corresponding accepted standards, and outline high-level expectations for implementation for different classes.
  4. Developed standard Mission Assurance Requirements (MARs): The updated policy provides a basis for establishing the use of a “standard” MAR when certain conditions are met. These MARs are still subject to concurrence by the Mission Directorate and Technical Authority (TA).
  5. Added new Assurance Implementation Matrix (AIM): AIM provides project managers with a vehicle to begin documenting how they plan to meet the various objectives and corresponding expectations, list the standards that are applicable and their overall approach, and state whether or not the objective(s) will be satisfied earlier in planning. It is the AIM that becomes one of the primary alignment vehicles to capture the objectives and expectations associated with risk classification between all concerned parties.
  6. Shortened the timeframe: Updates to the policy shortened the timeline for when the risk classification and corresponding objectives need to be established to ensure there is alignment between the MDs the TAs and time to implement changes earlier in the development life cycle.

Overall, changes to the policy now enable the MDs to better define what they want in terms of objectives and their corresponding expectations rather than prescriptive requirements. This gives the developers more flexibility in how they propose to meet those objectives and criteria. From there, program and project leaders can establish expectations — in partnership with MDs and TAs — and document how they plan to meet those expectations. The intent of this document is to provide the fundamental roles, responsibilities and instructions for implementing objectives-driven requirements for un-crewed missions.

For more information, contact DiVenti.