Dear Reader, Welcome to the first issue of the Space Safety Magazine, which is the joint “voice” of the IAASS (International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety) and of the ISSF (International Space Safety Foundation). The Space Safety Magazine supersedes the IAASS Newsletter that you were familiar with and enjoyed.
There is an important change of scope and target audience for the magazine. The main objective of the IAASS Newsletter was to publish opinions, thoughts, studies, analyses and experiences of the IAASS members to maintain a continuity of information exchange between IAASS conferences. The IAASS Newsletter was written by members for members. The Space Safety Magazine is written instead by space safety specialists (members and non members of IAASS) and by professional scientific journalists for the wider audience of those that have an interest, need or simply curiosity to know the current developments in the field of space safety and sustainability. The magazine will still include information about IAASS and ISSF upcoming events and life, but the relevant websites will truly be the main source of such information.
Why then a joint “voice” for the IAASS and for the ISSF? The Association and the Foundation are two essential pillars of the same project. One brings the knowledge, independence and dedication of its professional members, the other the financial support of corporations and government organization, which recognize the added value of independent safety research and academic education to their strategic objectives.
The space industry is expanding worldwide and with it the safety risk because of poor attention, lack of technical progress in the field, cumulative effects, and weak or non-existent international rules. Eventually the prospect for industry growth will be badly hurt if the necessary course of corrective actions is delayed. Safety risk in space missions refers to the general public safety (on ground, on air and at sea), safety of launch range personnel, and safety of humans on-board. Space safety is also generally defined in a wider sense as encompassing the safeguard of valuable facilities on ground (e.g. launch pads), of strategic and costly systems on orbit (i.e. global utilities), payloads as well as the safeguard of the space and Earth environment.
The International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) is the premiere association of professionals working in space safety and related engineering and management fields, but because of the very specialized field of interest the IAASS is and will remain a relatively small group of professionals yet a unique think-tank with a great potential for shaping attitude and culture of the wider space programs community. Because (numerically) small, the IAASS is unable to financially support all its initiatives and needs, in particular the support of sponsors and donors for the promotion of independent space safety research and specialized academic education. Providing this financial support is the purpose of the International Space Safety Foundation.
The question is then, why should a corporation or government organization sponsor independent research and academic education? There are multiple reasons, but the top one is that safety is often a strategic business growth driver. Safety advancement remains one of the key prerequisite for the success and expansion of many businesses. Sometimes continuous safe performance is even critical for company, program or sector survival. The faulty design of a single product can ruin its manufacturer’s business (as it happened several times in aviation). An unsafe design may terminate a unique design and operational concept (e.g. Shuttle, or the supersonic Concorde). A single major disaster can endanger an entire industrial sector (e.g. nuclear power generation after Fukushima). Any support to safety initiatives is therefore a positive contribution to the well being, progress and expansion of the space industry as well.
It is a symbolic although accidental circumstance that the first issue of this Space Safety Magazine coincides with the retirement from service of the Space Shuttle and the end of that program. We truly believe that this is not the end of the Space Age, as someone has written recently, but the start of a new era in which it is recognized that commercial space is the key player in “near space” while the preparation of the next government exploration missions requires the prerequisite achievement of technological advancement and breakthrough that would make them feasible, affordable, safe and finally useful because of their technological fall-out on the society. We are not at the end of an era but at the beginning of a new one. The space race ended with the Moon landing. The international cooperation in space (not just bi-lateral symbols of goodwill) truly started with the International Space Station which the Space Shuttle and the International Partners made possible. The International Space Station is the highest moment (physically, technologically and morally) of cooperation between nations to date in human history and hopefully just the beginning of larger cooperation. The race is finished, now it is the time for steady and safe progress!
Welcome Space Safety Magazine, welcome to you!
Tommaso Sgobba, IAASS President
Frederick D. Gregory, ISSF Board Chairman