The NESC, NASA Engineering and Safety Center, serves as an
independent technical resource for NASA managers and
employees. Created in November 2003, in
the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the NESC is
reporting its initial assessments and lessons learned concerning
four research projects.
CALIPSO is an earth science satellite being prepared by NASA
and the French space agency for a 2005 launch. A concern
about possible leaks of the spacecraft's highly reactive fuel led
to multiple recommendations to minimize risk to personnel, the
mission and the environment.
An X-43A team member contacted the
NESC concerning the research vehicle's aerodynamic characteristics
that could potentially lead to a loss of vehicle control, resulting
in failure to achieve mission objectives.
The NESC worked in conjunction with
the X-43A project ensuring the employee's concern was properly
During renewal of hardware in a
Space Shuttle orbiter, a concern was raised about the age and
effectiveness of grease on replacement hardware in long-term
storage. The NESC conducted extensive tests and analyses to
determine that the grease is still effective. A lesson
learned was that programs should periodically review hardware
components to ensure that they are operating within qualification
and certification limits.
The NESC participated in program
reviews prior to the two Mars Exploration Rover landings in
January. While both landings were highly successful, one review
revealed that current spacecraft instrumentation does not
adequately record the aerodynamic environment encountered during
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