SpaceRef

SpaceRef


NASA Oversight of United Space Alliance's Safety Procedures at Kennedy Space Center

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The audit report "NASA Oversight of United Space Alliance's Safety Procedures at the John F. Kennedy Space Center" (IG-02-018) has been posted to the NASA Office of Inspector General Web site at: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oig/hq/ig-02-018r.pdf

United Space Alliance (USA), a joint venture of The Boeing Company and Lockheed-Martin, is one of five prime contractors supporting the Space Shuttle Program (SSP). USA is responsible for the contracted tasks associated with the processing and flight preparation of the Space Shuttle fleet. USA's work affects the safety of NASA's astronauts; the Space Shuttle orbiters; and space flight personnel, hardware, and equipment. The Space Shuttle Program Office located at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is responsible for managing the Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC) and the SSP. SSP operations occur primarily at Johnson, the John F. Kennedy Space Center, and the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. We reviewed USA's implementation of the SFOC safety requirements for the SSP related to ground operations and integrated logistics at Kennedy, as well as NASA's oversight of USA's safety procedures.

Results of Audit

The safety responsibilities between USA and NASA were clear in that NASA established all SSP safety requirements, USA implemented those requirements through the SFOC, and NASA was fully responsible for the safe launch of the Shuttle. However, Kennedy's procedures for ensuring that USA properly implemented those safety requirements were not the same procedures defined in the SFOC. The SFOC states that NASA is to provide direct safety oversight of all USA operations. Nevertheless, Kennedy did not provide direct safety oversight of USA's ground operations but rather obtained insight into USA's safety operations through surveillance and audits. Further, Kennedy did not perform any level of safety oversight for integrated logistics, a high-risk area for injuries and mishaps. Implementing a level of oversight contradicting that required by the SFOC could lead to lapses in safety oversight, which increases the risk of harming personnel and damaging Space Shuttle hardware.

Although USA had developed a detailed safety management system to ensure compliance with NASA requirements for the safety of NASA's astronauts; the Space Shuttle orbiters; and space flight personnel, hardware, and equipment, we identified two areas where USA can further improve safety. USA inappropriately used ground support equipment (GSE) at Kennedy prior to completing required analyses to ensure that all hazards associated with the GSE were properly controlled. Additionally, there was no evidence that USA performed some critical, required safety procedures for a specific operation at Kennedy involving payload removal from an orbiter vehicle. By using GSE prior to completion of the analyses and by not performing all required safety procedures for payload removal, USA may have increased the risk of harm to personnel and Shuttle hardware.

NASA has planned six Space Shuttle flights to assemble the International Space Station from June 2002 through April 2003. Therefore, prompt management attention to all four areas is particularly important to the safety and success of the SSP.

Recommendations

We recommended that NASA ensure that SFOC safety requirements and Kennedy safety procedures are consistent. We also recommended that NASA review USA processes for implementing SSP requirements related to the approval and use of GSE in critical applications and ensure that USA's safety procedures for future payload installation and removal operations are properly implemented and documented. Finally, we recommended that NASA require the Kennedy Shuttle Processing Directorate and Shuttle Safety Office to improve procedures for ensuring that USA implements all safety requirements associated with safety analyses and payload removals

Management's Response

NASA concurred with five of the seven recommendations and has taken or planned corrective actions that we consider responsive. Although NASA nonconcurred with two recommendations, it has planned corrective actions that we consider responsive.

To comment on this report, please send e-mail to igrelease@hq.nasa.gov

// end //

More news releases and status reports or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

SpaceRef Newsletter