The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has released its annual report.
After the Columbia Disaster and subsequent CAIB report, ASAP has proven rigorous in its independent role to monitor NASA safety and compliance with CAIB recommendations. While most reports from government panels are forgotten as soon as they are submitted, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel’s annual reports are the exception to the rule in that they have had a material effect on space policy. Specifically, the White House lost the Great Space Debate of 2010 partly due to ASAP’s 2009 report that raised serious safety concerns regarding crewed commercial space flight. The Panel kept the safety pressure on NASA in its 2010 report that raised concerns about NASA’s efforts to draft commercial human rating standards. When crewed commercial orbital flights do begin, the safety of those flights will certainly have been enhanced by the oversight of ASAP.