of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident


[25] PART 1


Recommendation II and V



[26] Presidential Commission Recommendation II


Shuttle Management Structure. The Shuttle Program Structure should be reviewed. The project managers for the various elements of the Shuttle program felt more accountable to their center management than to the Shuttle program organization. Shuttle element funding, work package definition, and vital program information frequently bypass the National STS (Shuttle) Program Manager.

A redefinition of the Program Manager's responsibility is essential. This redefinition should give the Program Manager the requisite authority for all ongoing STS operations. Program funding and all Shuttle Program work at the centers should be placed clearly under the Program Manager's authority.

Astronauts in Management. The Commission observes that there appears to be a departure from the philosophy of the 1960's and 1970's relating to the use of astronauts in management positions. These individuals brought to their positions flight experience and a keen appreciation of operations and flight safety.



Shuttle Safety Panel. NASA should establish an STS Safety Advisory Panel reporting to the STS Program Manager. The charter of this panel should include Shuttle operational issues, launch commit criteria, flight rules, flight readiness, and risk management. The panel should include representation from the safety organization, mission operations, and the astronaut office.


Presidential Commission Recommendation V


Improved Communications. The Commission found that Marshall Space Flight Center project managers, because of a tendency at Marshall to management isolation, failed to provide full and timely information bearing on the safety of flight 51-L to other vital elements of Shuttle Program management.





[27] Because of the integral relationship between management structure and communications, the response to these two Commission recommendations is combined in this section of the report. The changes in management structure and improved communications will permit early detection and timely resolution of potential problems. Regular management reviews will provide frequent, in-depth assessments of program status and issues. This top-level review concept is structured for flexibility in responding to problems and meeting contingencies as they arise.



The National Space Transportation System (NSTS) Program management structure has been reviewed, and major changes in the organization, personnel, and management philosophy have been implemented. The program reporting channels have been redefined and streamlined.

In March 1986, Rear Admiral Richard Truly, Associate Administrator for Space Flight, initiated a NASA Headquarters review of the Space Shuttle Program management structure and other major activities necessary for the program to resume the flight schedule (Appendix C). In May 1986, the NASA Administrator requested retired USAF Lt. General Samuel C. Phillips, formerly the Apollo Program Director, to review the overall NASA management structure and to recommend changes necessary to improve the management of its programs and people. General Phillips' management study group undertook an 8-month comprehensive assessment of NASA's management practices and performed a thorough evaluation of the overall effectiveness. This study was completed in December 1986. Major recommendations were to establish centralized headquarters responsibility for all programs and to restructure the agency to improve the lines of communication.

In June 1986, after receipt of the Commission report, astronaut Captain Robert L. Crippen was assigned the responsibility for developing the response to Commission recommendations II and V. The objective of the Crippen effort was to identify and propose those changes necessary to strengthen the management of the program. The results of this effort, completed in August 1986, were [28] consistent with the subsequent Phillips committee recommendation that the position of Director, NSTS, be established at NASA Headquarters. This and the other recommendations of the study were implemented by a November 5, 1986, letter of direction from the Associate Administrator for Space Flight (Appendix D). Figures 14 and 15 portray the pre-STS 51-L Office of Space Flight organizational structure and the revised structure, respectively.

The Director, NSTS, reports directly to the Associate Administrator for Space Flight and has overall responsibility for the NSTS Program. The Director, NSTS, is supported by two deputies and the program/project organizational elements.

The Deputy Director, NSTS Program, a headquarters employee located at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), is responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of the program. He is specifically responsible for establishing, implementing, and controlling program requirements; providing program planning, direction, scheduling, and maintenance for NSTS configuration management and control; providing system engineering and integration of the flight vehicle, ground systems, and facilities; integrating the specific mission requirements with the orbiter vehicle for each flight; and performing mission planning and integration.

The pre-STS 51-L organization for the NSTS Program Office is shown in Figure 16, and the current organizational structure is shown in Figure 17. In the new organization, the project offices support the Deputy Director, NSTS Program, and report programmatically through him to the Director, NSTS. The integration and operations, engineering integration, management integration, safety, reliability, and quality assurance (SR&QA),...


Figure14. Office of Space Flight Chart (Pre-STS 51-L Organization).

Figure14. Office of Space Flight (Pre-STS 51-L Organization).


[29] ....and program control elements report directly to the Deputy Director, NSTS Program. The Manager for SR&QA is provided from the JSC Directorate of SR&QA.

The Deputy Director, NSTS Operations, a headquarters employee located at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), is responsible for all operational aspects of the NSTS missions and is specifically responsible for final vehicle preparation, mission execution, and return of the orbiter for processing for its next flight; management of the scheduling and presentation of flight readiness reviews; management of the final launch decision process, including final authority for launch commitment; and chairing the mission management team. This team, composed of senior program management officials, is responsible for reviewing all major launch and in-flight issues and for making those decisions that affect mission objectives.

The operations integration offices at JSC, KSC, and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) report directly to the Deputy Director, NSTS Operations, and are responsible for assessing flight plans, mission rules, launch commit criteria, training and mission preparation, launch site readiness, flight anomaly closeout, and other operational activities at their respective centers.

The Manager of Shuttle Projects at MSFC, also a headquarters employee, is responsible for overall management and coordination of the MSFC elements (solid rocket boosters, external tank, and Space Shuttle main engines). These project elements report through him to the Deputy Director, NSTS Program. This organizational alignment permits direct interaction between the Deputy Director, NSTS Program, and the MSFC element project managers.


Figure 15. Office of Space Flight Chart (Current Organization).

Figure 15. Office of Space Flight (Current Organization).


[30] To ensure direct involvement in program activities, the Flight Crew Operations, Mission Operations, and Mission Support offices at JSC have been designated as project elements, reporting programmatically to the Deputy Director, NSTS Program. Institutionally, these organizations now report directly to the JSC Director.

Shuttle operations and engineering at KSC have been consolidated, as a project element, under a new Director of STS Management and Operations, who reports institutionally to the Center Director. Other institutional realignments have strengthened overall Shuttle operations, including SR&QA, and have made center organizations compatible with the NSTS management structure.

The Director, NSTS, now has full responsibility for the NSTS Program budget and for balancing program content across all elements. The NSTS funding process has been revised. Requirements are identified and reviewed by each center director, and the approved center request is submitted to the program. The Deputy Directors, NSTS, review the submittals and forward combined assessments and recommendations, including any balancing of requirements across the projects or centers, to the Director, NSTS. These recommendations are reviewed and a proposed budget is submitted to the Associate Administrator for integration into the Office of Space Flight budget request. This revised process was used in the recent budget cycle and worked satisfactorily. The Director, NSTS, has full responsibility for the implementation of the approved NSTS budget.

The NSTS project offices are institutional organizations; however, they report programmatically through the Deputy Director, NSTS Program, to the Director, NSTS.


Figure 16. NSTS Program Management Organization Chart (Pre-STS 51-L)

Figure 16. NSTS Program Management Organization (Pre-STS 51-L)


[31] The respective center directors are responsible and accountable for the technical excellence and performance of the project elements assigned to their centers and for providing the institutional support required to manage the NSTS Program.

The Office of Space Flight Management Council has been revitalized. This council, consisting of the Associate Administrator and the directors of JSC, KSC, MSFC, and National Space Technology Laboratories, meets on a regular basis to review program progress, major decisions, and issues, and to provide the Associate Administrator with an independent assessment of program status. The Director, NSTS, and his organizational elements support the management council as required.

Many personnel changes have occurred within the NASA organization since the accident. NASA has a new Administrator; Deputy Administrator; Associate Deputy Administrators for Policy and for Institutions; new Associate Administrators for Space Flight, for Space Station, for Science and Applications, for External Affairs, and for Safety, Reliability, Maintainability, and Quality Assurance (SRM&QA); new Center Directors for KSC and MSFC; and a new Center Director and Deputy Director at JSC. At MSFC, other personnel changes include the Manager of Shuttle Projects, the Solid Rocket Booster Project Manager, the Director of Science and Engineering, and several key positions within their organizations.



NASA is continuing its policy of assigning astronauts to management positions to benefit from their management ability and....


Figure 17. NSTS Program Management Organization Chart (Current)

Figure 17. NSTS Program Management Organization (Current)


[32] ....specific space flight experience. At the present time, ten current or former astronauts hold key agency management positions. The specific personnel and positions are listed in Table 1. NASA will continue to encourage astronauts to participate in the management process, both on a permanent and a rotational basis. This policy is beneficial from two aspects: (l) the agency and program acquire very capable management personnel with significant operational experience, and (2) astronauts who rotate through management positions and return to flight status carry with them a better understanding of the program process.



NASA has established a Space Flight Safety Panel, chaired by astronaut Bryan O'Connor. To maximize the panel's independence, it reports to the Associate Administrator for Safety, Reliability, Maintainability, and Quality Assurance. The panel's charter is to promote a NASA space flight safety program for space programs involving flight crews and to advise and assist the appropriate associate administrators in the administration and monitoring of flight safety aspects of their programs. The panel's purpose is to preserve human and material resources and to enhance space flight operations whenever flight safety is affected. The panel roles and responsibilities are defined in NASA Management Instruction 1152.66 (Appendix E).

The Space Flight Safety Panel is composed of an astronaut with space flight experience, a JSC flight director, an MSFC mission manager, and a KSC test director. The Commission recommended that the panel...



Table 1. Astronauts in Management.






Bear Admiral Richard Truly

Associate Administrator for space Flight

NASA Headquarters

Dr Sally Bide

Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Exploration

NASA Headquarters

Captain Rick Hauck

Associate Administrator for External Affairs (August 1 986-January 1987)

NASA Headquarters

Colonel Fred Gregory

Chief, Operational Safety Branch Office

NASA Headquarters

Captain Robert Crippen

Deputy Director, NSTS Operations

Kennedy Space Center

Paul Weitz

Deputy Director

Johnson Space Center

John Young

Special Assistant to the Director for Engineering, Operations, and Safety

Johnson Space Center

Lt Colonel James Adamson

Assistant Manager for Engineering Integration, NSTS Program Office

Johnson Space Center

Colonel Charles Bolden

Chief, Safety Division

Johnson Space Center

Colonel Brewster Shaw

Chairman, Orbiter Modification Team

Johnson Space Center

Colonel Bryan O'Connor

Assistant Manager for Operations, NSTS Program Office, Chm, Flight Safety Panel

Johnson Space Center


[33] ...membership include a representative from the Safety Office and that the panel report to the Shuttle Program Manager. The Chief of Headquarters Operations Safety Branch serves as advisor to the panel; and the panel chairman, who is Assistant Manager for NSTS Operations, reports organizationally to the Deputy Director, NSTS Program. These two factors satisfy the intent of the Commission recommendations while maintaining maximum independence for the panel in the conduct of its activities.

The panel has met ten times since January 1987 and has reviewed the flight safety programs at several NASA centers, United Airlines, the Air Force Flight Test Center, and the Air Force First Tactical Fighter Wing. Key flight safety officials at each of these locations were interviewed to compare the principles, functions, and capabilities of NASA's safety organization with those of our nation's best aviation safety organizations.

A report detailing the results of this survey with recommendations will be available in July 1987. The report will recommend enhancements to the training, certification, and management support given to the program safety engineers, a more aggressive mishap investigation and reporting system, and development of a viable flight safety program.



Safety of Flight Communications

The Shuttle management structure, with the element project managers reporting programmatically to the Director, NSTS, and the regular meetings of the Office of Space Flight Management Council will minimize the potential for management isolation observed by the Commission. The new organization, along with the revised launch constraint process discussed below, will ensure that vital program and safety-related issues are elevated to the proper program management level for resolution.


Launch Constraints

The NSTS Program is establishing a formal process for identifying and defining launch constraints. This process will use a centralized, program-wide, problem reporting system to identify hardware and software discrepant conditions, from component acceptance testing through mission completion and postflight inspection. This system, discussed in detail in the response to Recommendation IX, will be initialized and maintained by the Deputy Director, NSTS Program. Element project managers will recommend launch constraints based on the performance of their systems. Other organizational elements, including SRM&QA, may also recommend constraints.

The Deputy Director, NSTS Program, will be responsible for evaluating proposed launch constraints and recommending their disposition. Approval for establishment, removal, and waiver of launch constraints will be the responsibility of the Director, NSTS. Launch constraints for each mission will be reviewed at the flight readiness review (FRR).


Flight Readiness and Mission Management Team Reviews

Major meetings leading to a decision to launch are the flight readiness and mission management team (MMT) reviews. The FRR, held 2 weeks before launch, is chaired by the Associate Administrator for Space Flight, with all senior program and center management as well as contractor officials in attendance. Each project manager is required to assess his readiness for launch by considering hardware status, problems encountered during launch processing and their resolution, launch constraints, and open items. Each NASA project manager and the respective element contractor is required to sign the Certificate of Flight Readiness, stating their readiness for launch, at the FRR.

The mission management team convenes at the beginning of terminal launch count and meets formally on launch minus 1 day (L-1) for final review of launch readiness. The MMT reports to the Deputy Director, NSTS Operations, and is composed of the management personnel responsible for launch- and mission-related decisions. Each project element and contractor will sign an endorsement to the certificate of flight readiness statement, at the L-1 day MMT meeting, [34] that reaffirms their readiness for launch. SRM&QA personnel will be involved in the FRR, L-1, and other key decision-making meetings prior to launch and during the mission. The proceedings of both the FRR and MMT will be recorded, and formal minutes will be published.


Flight Crew Operations Directorate Participation

The Flight Crew Operations Directorate is now designated as a project element. The director or his designated representative is a participant in the FRR and a member of the MMT. He will certify that the flight crew is prepared for launch and that the crew has no unresolved issues related to the planned mission or flight hardware. The flight crew commander or his designated representative will attend the FRR.


Integrated Schedules

Overall management visibility and communications are being improved through development of a series of integrated program schedules. These schedules, based on weekly detailed input data from each element project and the NSTS Engineering Integration Office, have improved program management awareness of interrelated tasks and critical program paths to meet significant program milestones.


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