NASA Program Management Council 26 April 2007: Agency Human Rating Certification Plans

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2007


Second Item of Business: Agency Human Rating Certification Plans

Bryan O'Connor, Chief Safety and Mission Assurance (S&MA), provided a preamble to the briefing. The existing NPR 8705.2A, Human Rating Requirements for Space Systems, was approved more than two years ago. The Constellation program (CxP) and COTS project are using that version until a new version is approved. O'Connor described the existing version in three parts: the first part is about governance and is out of date, the second part references standards that apply, and the third describes the technical requirements. O'Connor has asked program and project teams to concentrate on application of the technical requirements because that part will mostly stay intact.

Wil Harkins, Office of S&MA, provided an overview of the conceptual changes for human rating plans for the Agency. Specifically Harkins focused on governance and standards. Brent Jett, from the JSC, is leading the effort that Harkins is presenting. In approximately one month the PMC will be briefed on the technical requirements implementation being applied by CxP. The Agency will have to make the necessary changes to adjust to the updated NPR when it is released.

Geveden questioned the assertion that the human rating requirements are unnecessarily cumbersome and what kind of change might be expected. Scott Horowitz, ESMD AA, noted that the technical requirements had been significantly streamlined. Harkins indicated that while the wording of individual requirements may have been streamlined and clarified in most cases the new requirements could be directly traced to the old.

Harkins described the briefing as a direct comparison of the process changes including roles and responsibilities differences between the existing version and the update.

The first big change is the role of the NASA AA. The Human Rating Board is eliminated and responsibility now rests with the NASA AA as the chair of the PMC. The NASA AA is the authority for human rating and certification.

Specific to the role of Center Directors (CDs), Geveden asked why there is only a role for JSC and not for the launch vehicle Centers i.e. MSFC and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Harkins replied that the JSC CD has a key new role that covers "informed consent" for the astronauts and does not represent a certification of the design. The question was raised if the informed consent was also for the international crews or spaceflight participants. O'Connor replied yes. Harkins acknowledged that a specific statement to that effect does not exist in the revised NPR but will be included.

The role of technical-authorities (TAs) was discussed. Each TA designates the appropriate standards for the project under his authority. O'Connor noted that this NPR will not be a stand-alone document. It assumes that the TAs have appropriately provided their oversight during the design, after which human rating is applied. With COTS, NASA has assumed that the other TA standards are embedded in the design; however NASA does not have insight into what the COTS contractors are doing: Horowitz noted that the contractors would know what NASA looks for by having a copy of the NPR. NASA will have to be satisfied that the other TA standards have been appropriately followed. Horowitz explained NASA could only do that with insight, communication and awareness. Scott Pace, PA&E AA, noted NASA needs enough awareness to accept the risk and be comfortable to purchase services. Tom Luedtke, Institutions and Management (I&M) AA, noted that the COTS agreements are for development, and that contracts for flight should allow NASA to levy the appropriate requirements.

Geveden asked about the new role of the Standing Review Board (SRB). The presentation implies that the SRB is part of the approval loop. Harkins responded that the SRB evaluates human rating as it assesses the program against the baseline design. The SRB has an advisory role and will not approve any waivers or exceptions to human rating. Geveden agreed and does not want the SRB to be in the consent loop. Harkins noted that there is no need for a separate independent review team panel as existed before. The SRB will serve that function by independent review at the life-cycle milestones.

No decisions, no actions required.

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