Safety panel recommends NASA develops strategy for workforce and infrastructure – SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — As NASA’s administration of its human spaceflight applications evolves to include higher roles for corporations, the company must take a strategic have a look at its workforce and infrastructure necessities, a security panel suggested.

On the Feb. 18 assembly of NASA’s Aerospace Security Advisory Panel (ASAP), members reiterated issues cited in its annual report printed final month that NASA must extra fastidiously contemplate its personnel and amenities wants because it adopts a extra various set of approaches to managing human spaceflight applications.

“The company should outline clearly its central position, authorities and tasks, and the method that NASA chooses to take ought to inform not solely the talent units and the workforce of the long run, but in addition the acquisition technique, the operational posture ought to set up and the infrastructure that must be out there,” Sandy Magnus, a member of the panel and a former NASA astronaut, stated on the assembly.

ASAP highlighted as one space of curiosity in its annual report the “evolution” in NASA’s human spaceflight applications, from the early years of the company the place applications have been managed completely in-house to what Magnus described the “broad combination of acquisition methods, partnerships and operational paradigms” used. That ranges from the traditional administration approaches used for the Area Launch System and Orion to extra business approaches with business crew and the Human Touchdown System program.

As that evolution continues, the panel stated NASA wants to contemplate how to make sure it has the workforce in place to fulfill these altering necessities. “NASA has said that the dimensions and composition of the workforce must be formed by strategic steering, quite than by unbiased hiring plans developed on the middle or group degree,” Magnus stated.

Nonetheless, she stated there’s no signal of such strategic planning. “It nonetheless seems that key choices associated to workforce wants are being made tactically by particular person facilities, quite than in collaboration with headquarters in response to top-down steering in a strategic method,” she stated.

That echoed issues within the annual report. “It’s not clear to the Panel that NASA is intentionally addressing sure workforce points on the strategic degree,” it said. “Failing to take action may end in blurred tasks and the immediately associated concern that some dangers is probably not actively or adequately managed.”

Magnus raised the same concern with infrastructure on the company. “They’ve a chance to align their infrastructure to their long-term technique. The workforce, the infrastructure and the strategic path are all linked,” she stated. That included efforts to “establish and shut amenities that aren’t vital to company applications.”

“That potential to regulate will contribute on to lowering fastened prices and liberating sources for NASA’s applications,” she stated. The panel had one advice for NASA, asking it to develop a top-level plan for the dimensions and composition of its workforce and infrastructure.

NASA, in a “transition binder” ready final November for the incoming Biden administration transition group, included “strategic workforce planning” as one in all its key company initiatives. That effort “is dedicated to a extra agile, strategically formed workforce that’s pushed by work necessities,” the doc states. The company foresees lowering the variety of everlasting “full-time equal” positions by 10% over 5 years, however permitting facilities to rent workers as wanted during particular tasks. The doc didn’t elaborate on how NASA would perform these efforts.

Security assessment

The panel mentioned a number of different points on the assembly, together with the administration of NASA exploration applications and standing of their improvement, in addition to business crew applications.

On business crew, ASAP member David West stated the committee was intently watching a number of points, together with the reuse of each the Falcon 9 booster and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Crew-2 mission scheduled for launch no sooner than April 20, and an influence surge that required the substitute of avionics on the CST-100 Starliner that pushed back its launch on the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) 2 uncrewed test flight to no earlier than April 2.

Boeing agreed to fly OFT-2 after issues through the unique OFT mission in December 2019 that prevented the spacecraft from docking with the Worldwide Area Station. These issues prompted an unbiased assessment with about 80 suggestions, of which about 95% have been closed, NASA stated Feb. 17.

West stated the panel was “happy to see the efforts” to implement these suggestions. “Nonetheless, the panel continues to be ready for NASA to take motion on a security tradition audit that was to have been carried out by now,” he added. “The panel believes that it crucial that the protection tradition audit be carried out to make sure that any lingering systemic points associated to danger administration, high quality and security are recognized and corrected earlier than the Crew Flight Take a look at takes place.” That crewed check flight of Starliner is scheduled for no sooner than September.

In a Feb. 19 assertion to SpaceNews, NASA spokesman Josh Finch stated that NASA nonetheless intends to hold out that security tradition audit, which it calls an Organizational Security Evaluation (OSA). “The aim of the OSA is to supply a complete security evaluation by way of particular person worker interviews with a sampling from a cross-section of personnel, together with senior managers, mid-level administration and supervision, and engineers and technicians at numerous websites,” he stated.

That evaluation will start after the OFT-2 mission, he stated, noting that the company held off on performing the evaluation earlier due to the pandemic. “NASA presently is working to find out one of the best method for conducting the worker interviews given COVID-19 restrictions to make sure we’re transferring ahead as safely as doable whereas nonetheless gathering the information we want for the evaluation.”


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