Go to the NASA Homepage
Search >
Click to Search
Human Systems Integration Division homepageHuman Systems Integration Division homepage Organization pageOrganization page Technical Areas pageTechnical Areas page Outreach and Publications pageOutreach and Publications page Contact pageContact page
Human Systems Integration Division Homepage
Outreach & Publications Sidebar Header
Go to the Outreach & Publications pageGo to the Outreach & Publications page
Go to Awards pageGo to Awards page
Go to News pageGo to News page
Go to Factsheets pageGo to Factsheets page
Go to Multimedia pageGo to Multimedia page
Go to Human Factors 101 pageGo to Human Factors 101 page
What is Human System Integration? Website
Publication Header
Human factors in mission assurance – cultural influence on mission success and risk  (2005)
Abstract Header
Space projects rely completely on people for development and implementation – but project risk lists rarely include human factors as significant sources of risk. Investigations of recent space mission failures, most notably the Columbia disaster, have pointed to human issues and “cultural factors” as underlying causes. Reports have focused on behaviors and artifacts of organizational culture, which are most visible to the investigators; they have not usually identified the basic assumptions that are the essence of culture and the drivers of behavior.

An earlier paper identified and explained certain cultural and behavioral human factors related to mission success in both NASA and military space programs; it reviewed studies of both NASA and military missions, including investigations of the Mars ’98 failures. It briefly described four main behavioral factors related to mission success, some risks related to such factors, and how such risks might be mitigated.

This paper takes the next step in the analysis, and integrates the work of organization development practitioners and experts who focus on the cultural imperatives that guide behavior in organizations. I reviewed psychological literature related to human anxiety and its relief, and interviewed a practicing psychologist who leads the Employee Assistance Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I will perhaps raise more questions than I answer concerning the power of specific cultural imperatives; but I will suggest some effective means of changing the basic assumptions that drive “cultural” behaviors.
Private Investigators Header
Authors Header
Groups Header
Keywords Header
assurance, cultural, factors, Human, influence, mission, mission, risk, success
References Header
Proceedings of the sixth NASA/Aerospace Corporation Space Systems Engineering and Risk Management Symposium, El Segundo, California, October 26-28 2005
Go to the First Gov Homepage
Go to the NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Homepage
Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Alonso Vera
Last Updated: August 15, 2019