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SEAS Receives $300,000 Grant to Study Astronaut Safety

Press Release From: George Washington University
Posted: Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Researchers from the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) and the Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) recently received a contract from the Board of Directors of the Space Shuttle Children's Fund (SSCF) to carry out anindependent and interdisciplinary academic study and assessment of human space flight safety in the past, present and into the future.

After a competitive process, the SSCF awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant to a team of GW space experts from the Space & Advanced Communications Research Institute (SACRI) in SEAS and the Space Policy Institute in ESIA. The study will investigate the technical, policy and standards aspects of safety in human space flight and research new ways to achieve risk-minimization for the US shuttle programs, the International Space Station and other future human spaceflight programs. The interdisciplinary team will operate from GW's Virginia and Foggy Bottom campuses.

Our team will attempt to identify ways to make future human space flight safer, not simply in the near term, but looking more than a decade into the future, as humans resume journeys of exploration beyond Earth's orbit, said Joseph Pelton, director of SACRI and GW research professor of engineering, who will lead the research group along with John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute and GW professor of political science and international affairs.

Unlike the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, which specifically analyzed the causes of last year's space shuttle accident, this study will be very broad in scope and will consider a more comprehensive range of issues. The study will try to identify new approaches to human space flight in order to make future missions more reliable and thus less hazardous to crew members.

As part of the project, a team of investigators will interview space experts at NASA and other US government agencies, aerospace companies, research institutes and representatives of various space agencies around the world to identify ways to improve safety and reduce risks of future manned space missions.

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