Technical Experience

Our principals participated in the development of the Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) Procedures Guide and PRA training course for NASA HQ Code Q. This task required us to work with a panel of experts to formulate a training document and course tailored specifically to NASA’s programs and needs. This task took over a year in its initial development, and is periodically updated. As part of this effort, we have participated in teaching many PRA courses at various NASA centers, including NASA Headquarters, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA-Johnson Space Center (JSC), NASA-Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and NASA Ames. Additionally, we have taught PRA courses for several NASA contractors.

Our principals participated on the Independent Review Team of the Space Launch Initiative Program. This task required us to examine a major launch vehicle program and determine its technical risks, its costs, and its impact on the Agency. This was a 6-month effort that had us meeting with NASA centers, contractors, and reporting out to the Independent Programmatic Assessment Office at NASA Langley.

Our principals participated on the Independent Peer Review Panel of the Space Shuttle Probabilistic Risk Assessment. This required us to perform an in-depth review of the Space Shuttle PRA and make recommendations on its quality and how it should be used. This effort was almost two years of work and had us reporting to the Director of Safety at NASA Headquarters.

We have led many of the PRA efforts at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This includes risk assessments for past flight programs such as GRACE, the Mars Exploration Rover, Stardust, and CloudSAT. We are also working on the risk assessments of several future flight projects, such as the Mars Science Laboratory, Kepler, Space Interferometry Mission, FIRST/Planck mission with ESA, Mars Sample Return, and the Advanced Mirror Telescope. Additionally we worked on several programs that have been cancelled, such as Prometheus I/Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) mission and the joint Mars ’07 effort with the French space agency CNES. These efforts require us to work with system engineering and mission assurance teams to model complex spacecraft systems, determine how they operate, how they can fail, and how they can recover. We work closely with the system engineering designers and provide real time feed back and quick turn around assessments which can be used to better the design. Finally, we quantify these models and determine and prioritize a set of risk drivers which can then be used in risk management efforts. All of these projects also have us training JPL employees in the area of risk assessment.

We worked with NASA-Ames on developing a PRA for the Cell Culture Unit payload, and helped teach the Payload Safety Review Panel (PSRP) about qualitative risk and how to include it in the risk management and payload safety review processes. This was the first time the PSRP considered using quantitative metrics for risk in support of its usual qualitative metrics. In addition to us doing the work, we supported NASA Ames personnel at conferences and in teaching a brief PRA course to the PSRP.

Our principals developed a PRA for the Mars Exploration Office at NASA- Johnson Space Center for future manned missions to mars architectures comparing nuclear thermal rockets and solar electric propulsion. These models continue to form the basis of many Mars exploration trade studies performed at NASA- Johnson Space Center to this day. This year effort had us supporting engineers at NASA-Johnson Space Center.

Our principals developed a PRA of the X-38 which was used as an input into the expected casualty analysis. This task also had us supporting engineers at NASA- Johnson Space Center and helped teach the NASA-Johnson Space Center personnel about using PRA as an input into the expected casualty analysis. A similar task was performed in this fashion on the X-33, which was the first time a real PRA was used as inputs to the Expected Casualty analysis by range safety personnel.

We have taught many short courses on Probabilistic Risk Assessment and Risk Management for both the NRC, NASA, and at conferences.

We have also taught many SAPHIRE courses in the former Soviet Union, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), at NASA-Ames, at NASA-Kennedy Space Center, and the NASA-Johnson Space Center.