FAA_LogoThe US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating methods to increase the collaboration between government and industry at the request of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. Since the October 2011 meeting of Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), an advisory board within the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the FAA has been developing a process for improving space flight safety in the industry by sharing data that could be relevant to future missions. The AST is modifying an internal lessons learned database that it plans to make widely available. This database, known as STAR, will be adapted for public consumption and will be added to the already existing Commercial Space Transportation Lessons Learned Website.

“COMSTAC finds that it would be beneficial for the FAA to develop a process for disclosing to the industry pertinent data from reported safety critical anomalies, mishaps, incidents, and precursors where relevant to current and future operations. Such a process needs to protect proprietary data and comply with relevant export control policies whiles still fostering the continuous safety improvement of the industry”, said Chief Engineer Michael S. Kelly in his presentation to COMSTAC.

According to the same presentation published on the FAA website, the STAR database will join the four databases already existing:

  • FAA – Lessons Learned From Transport Airplane Accidents which includes a number of major aviation accidents and their related lessons learned.
  • The NASA Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS) focuses on the official, reviewed learned lessons from NASA programs and projects.
  • The NASA Office of Logic Design – Digital Engineering Institute website provides access to the design, analysis, verification, and test of digital systems.
  • The Best Manufacturing Practices (BMP) Center of Excellence Program encourages companies to share their best practices and to operate at a higher level of efficiency and become more competitive through their implementation.

This new updated STAR database contains information on more than 5,600 orbital launches around the world. The intent of sharing data is to create a safety culture in the commercial space industry and to encourage data sharing within the industry, says Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Jim Vaan Laak. This database will also will help the industry to decide which data should be made public on FAA’s website.

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation regulates the U.S. commercial space transportation industry. It recommends improvements in regulations, treaties, procedures, and policies and promotes space launches as well as reentries with the private space sector. AST was founded in 1984 and since 1995 it has solely been focused on space. COMSTAC should have received a progress update on the current status of STAR in their meeting in May 2013, but no public information is available at the time of this writing.