Doubling Down on Space Safety

  • Published
  • By Keith Wright
  • Air Force Safety Center

Recently, the Air Force Safety Center transferred the Space Safety Division to the United States Space Force as one of the first blended organizations in the Department.  Already charged with supporting both services, this transfer serves to leverage the Center’s expertise doubling down on space safety for both services.

The Safety Center’s Space Safety Division will continue to call Kirtland Air Force Base home, while remaining steadfast in their commitment to promote and enhance space mishap prevention and a risk management culture in the USSF.

Air Force Chief of Safety Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch Jr., who stands charged with the oversight of Air Force mishap prevention programs and command of the Air Force Safety Center, oversees the Space Safety Division’s efforts to develop, execute and evaluate space mishap prevention programs.

“When standing up any new organization, it is important to ensure safety remains an integral part of the culture – who we are and how we do business,” said Rauch. “This reorganization capitalizes on best practices derived from an already proven Safety Management System ensuring mishap prevention efforts are built into the Space Force America needs.”

Rauch added, “Our safety professionals are steadfast in their support to enable the Air and Space Forces mission execution safely and effectively.”

The Space Safety Division’s key tasks include the development, execution, and evaluation of Air and Space Force space mishap prevention programs, along with execution of several Department of Defense responsibilities; Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Board, DoD Executive Agent for Nuclear Space Safety, and co-chair to the quad-agency working group with the FAA, NASA, and NTSB. Additionally, they oversee mishap investigations, program evaluations, and ensure application of corrective actions and mishap inclusion through the Air Force Safety Automated System.

“Space Safety’s alignment under USSF ensures unity of effort,” said Dr. Mark Glissman, Chief of Space Safety Division. “This construct allows us to work directly with applicable major and field commands on all space safety matters.”

The division’s force structure will be made up of a mixture of civilian, military and contractors.

Glissman added, “Additionally, being a part of a blended organization aligns Space Safety closely with all Department of the Air Force safety disciplines to provide unparalleled support to both services reducing duplication of effort.”

Mishaps may occur during any stage of space operations – a satellite could fall over during manufacturing; a rocket possibly veers off course during launch; a chance satellite collision with debris in space; crash during re-entry operations; or unsafe conditions at a ground-based radar site. These are all possible mishap scenarios across the spectrum of space activities Space Safety may work to avoid.

Outside of space operations, Space Professionals may also be susceptible to hazards in the occupational, weapons and aviation disciplines on their installations.

“Mishap prevention is essential to the readiness of every service,” Rauch said “As each echelon of the Space Force stands up, elements of safety will be woven in to safeguard personnel, protect resources and preserve combat capability.”