National Aeronautics and Space Administration
attributed to the history of the development of the two organizations during short term missions such as Apollo and the Space Shuttle. The evolution of the relationship in the relatively new paradigm of long term continuous ISS operations has not been completed. This can have a deleterious effect on the speed and accuracy at which decisions can be made in real-time and transmitted to the crew on–orbit. Although not contributory to this HVCC, it may adversely impact a future situation. These issues can be broken down into several areas that need to be worked to correct the situation. The Flight Control Team is charged with the safe and efficient operation of the ISS. To fulfill this role, they must rely on the support of the ISS Program and the Engineering communities. To that end the ISS Program Manager, through his approval of the Station Program Implementation Plan (SPIP) (SSP-5020009) and ISS Flight Rules (SSP-50643) has delegated authority to the Flight Director (FD), and by extension the Flight Control Team (FCT), to act on the behalf of the Program for all issues relating to real-time operations. Specifically Volume 9 of the SPIP states: “The … Flight Director has overall authority and responsibility for the safety of the ISS and crew, planning and plan execution, systems operations, and anomaly troubleshooting. The … Flight Director is the final authority on whether to continue any ISS activity, including ISS payloads operations.” The SPIP further states: “The … Flight Director has the responsibility and authority to take any action required to ensure the safety of the crew and ISS. When decisions are required outside of the ISS operating base, the … Flight Director will consult the MMT via the Mission Operation Directorate (MOD) when time permits.” Additional detail as to the authority of the FCT is contained in the ISS Flight Rules (SSP-50643). The SPIP also defines the role of the Engineering community in real-time operations: “ISS Program Sustaining Engineering provides on-orbit engineering support with expert systems/hardware design engineers. This support includes detailed systems performance analyses to resolve system anomalies and identification of trends that could lead to degraded performance and/or system failure. Sustaining Engineering will provide engineering support in the Mission Evaluation Room (MER) as required. In the event of an anomaly, the flight control team will turn to Sustaining Engineering for resolution of the anomaly.” It is clear that both sides are frustrated to a certain extent with the current state of affairs. Most of the issues observed by the MIB the MIB feels can be overcome by improved communication at all levels within both organizations. The roles and responsibilities of both organizations with regard to anomaly resolution need to be more fully defined below that at the SPIP or Flight Rules level and expectations discussed and agreed to by both parties. A case in point: in reviewing the ISS In-Flight Anomaly Resolution Process Work Instruction (MGTOA-019), the process by which the MER operates in the identification, investigation, and ultimate entrance into the PRACA system was found to be evidently well documented. It also holds clues as to areas where conflicts between the FCT and the MER may arise. The MGT-OA-019 document details the criteria for which Anomaly Resolution Teams (ARTs) and Failure Investigation Teams (FITs) may be created at the discretion of the MER Manager apparently without consultation with the Flight Director. This can be problematic as for an ART the FCT is a mandatory participant and for the FIT is highly desired both of which can cause resource issues on the part of the FCT. This can also lead to confusion as there seems to be significant overlap between an ART and an MOD-led and FCT initiated “Team 4” activity. An ART is described as “A formal “Tiger Team” established by the ISS MER (emphasis the
Published on Feb 27, 2014
Report of the NASA Mishap Investigation Board examining the high visibility close call event of July 16, 2013 when ESA astronaut Luca Parmit...