Archives For NASA

20140130-063147.jpg
Reflecting on learning in the aftermath of disaster

There’s been a lot of ink expended on examinations of the causes of the Challenger disaster, whose anniversary passed quietly by yesterday, but are we really the wiser for it?

Continue Reading…

Why NASA is like British Rail

Well more precisely, the structural changes that the American space program is undergoing are akin to those that the British rail industry under went during the 1980s.

The past of space transportation in the US is fundamentally defined by NASA, a large, government owned, monolithic, monopolistic, vertically integrated organisation. Sound familiar? It ought, the same description could be applied to the United Kingdom’s British Rail of the 1980s.

Continue Reading…

Fighter Cockpit Rear View Mirror

What the economic theory of sunk costs tells us about plan continuation bias

Plan continuation bias is a recognised and subtle cognitive bias that tends to force the continuation of an existing plan or course of action even in the face of changing conditions. In the field of aerospace it has been recognised as a significant causal factor in accidents, with a 2004 NASA study finding that in 9 out of the 19 accidents studied aircrew exhibited this behavioural bias. One explanation of this behaviour may be a version of the well known ‘sunk cost‘ economic heuristic.

Continue Reading…

The past is prologue to the present

I’m currently reading a report prepared by MIT’s Human and Automation Labs on a conceptual design for the Altair lunar lander’s human machine interface. Continue Reading…

Why taking risk is an inherent part of the human condition

On the 6th of May 1968 Neil Armstrong stepped aboard the Lunar Lander Test Vehicle (LLTV) for a routine training mission. During the flight the vehicle went out of control and crashed with Armstrong ejecting to safety seconds before impact. Continue Reading…

For the STS 134 mission NASA has estimated a 1 in 90 chance of loss of vehicle and crew (LOCV) based on a Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA). But should we believe this number?

Continue Reading...