NASA should build a personnel and infrastructure plan, according to a safety panel

NASA Space

A safety panel urged NASA to take a comprehensive look at its personnel and infrastructure requirements. The agency’s control of its human spaceflight activities expands to include greater positions for businesses. Leaders of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) met on February 18 to reinforce questions posed in the agency’s annual report, which noted that as it embraces a more complex range of strategies to handling human spaceflight initiatives, it must consider its staff and infrastructure needs more closely.

“The agency must define exactly its core position, authorities, and obligations, and the strategy that NASA selects should determine not only the potential skill sets and personnel, but also the recruitment strategy, the organizational structure that should be developed, and the facilities that should be accessible,” Sandy Magnus, who is a member of this panel as well as an ex-NASA explorer, stated at the meeting.

The “transformation” of NASA’s human spaceflight projects, from the early days of the agency when programs were handled entirely in-house to what Magnus identified as the “diverse mixture of procurement methods, alliances, and organizational paradigms” utilized, was outlined as one area of concern in ASAP’s annual study. This includes traditional management methods such as those utilized for the Space Launch System as well as Orion, as well as more commercial strategies such as commercial crew and Human Landing System program.

As the transition continues, the panel believes NASA should think about how to guarantee it has the staff it requires to fulfill those evolving needs. “NASA has indicated that strategic guidelines, rather than autonomous hiring strategies established at the center or organization stage, should shape the structure and shape of the staff,” Magnus added.

She says, however, that there is no evidence of such tactical preparation.  “It seems that key personnel decisions are still being taken tactically by independent centers rather than in coordination with headquarters and in a strategic way in reaction to top-down supervision,” she added. Concerns presented in the yearly report were reiterated in this statement. It said, “It is not evident to the Panel whether NASA is intentionally addressing these workforce problems at the strategic level.” “Failure to do so may lead to unclear obligations and, as a result, the possibility that certain threats are not actively or appropriately managed.”

Magnus voiced a similar concern about the agency’s facilities. “They have a chance to match their facilities with their long-term vision. She clarified that the workforce, infrastructure, and strategic strategy are all interconnected.

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