NASA names new safety advisory panel
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: November 18, 2003
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced the new NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), which includes nine distinguished members and a new charter. The initial meeting of the new panel is expected soon.
"The Columbia Accident Investigation Board report clearly indicated we need to get back to basics with our safety assessment," said Administrator O'Keefe. "By recommitting ourselves to the original concept for the ASAP, we believe a stronger, more focused advisory panel will benefit the entire agency well beyond our Return to Flight efforts."
The ASAP was originally chartered by Congress in 1967 after the tragic Apollo One fire, to act as an independent body to advise the NASA Administrator on safety issues regarding operations, missions and other agency initiatives. The new charter calls for the ASAP to be composed of recognized safety, management and engineering experts from industry, academia and other government agencies.
Over the years, administrative procedures were added to govern the conduct of the panel. These procedures have been revoked, and the new panel will have the opportunity to develop its agenda in concert with the oversight findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
"By drawing on and tasking the technical support of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, the panel will have a deep capacity to conduct comprehensive, independent, external oversight of our safety systems, operations and culture. We welcome the members' active participation in our efforts to emerge from the Columbia tragedy a smarter, stronger and safer agency dedicated to exploration," said Administrator O'Keefe.
In late September 2003, 11 ASAP members and consultants resigned in the wake of the Columbia accident.
The new ASAP members are:
Rear Admiral Walt Cantrell, USN (Ret)
Vice Admiral Joe Dyer, USN (Ret)
Augustine Esogbue, Ph.D.
Major General Rusty Gideon, USAF (Ret)
Rosemary O'Leary, J.D., Ph.D.
Brigadier General Joseph Smith, USA -- Ex-Officio Member
The new ASAP will begin with the original charter, signed by then-NASA Administrator James E. Webb. New provisions help assure an independent, long-term oversight of the agency's safety policies and programs. Some of the revisions include:
"We've taken extra steps to ensure the independence of this panel," said Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission Assurance Bryan O'Connor. "While the original law and the new charter allow for NASA members, none of the new members is a current or former agency employee or contractor."
The new ASAP is also expected to play an important role in the ongoing safety assessment and review of the Space Shuttle program after Return to Flight. "We intend for the ASAP to oversee our implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's recommendations long after the work of the Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group is completed," added Administrator O'Keefe. "Our intent is to institutionalize a renewed commitment to safety, and the panel will help us assure that we follow through on that objective."