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Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report
What are the appropriate time templates to use for technology-driven innovation?
Tuesday, February 24
Focus Topic 3: “Risk Aversion—Flying in the Face of Uncertainty”
Moderator: Molly Macauley Panel Discussion
Gen. John Barry, CAIB viewpoint
Joseph Fuller, Futron Corporation
Gregg Hagedorn, NAVSEA
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University
Richard Obermann, Staff Member, House Science Committee
Michael G. Stamatelatos, NASA Director for Safety & Assurance Requirements
What lessons might be shared about differences in risk perception by the public, the Congress, and the agency (NASA)? How are perceptions influenced by risks that are low probability but high cost?
The NASA model under discussion (ASTRA) omits explicit treatment of risk. Risk can be defined in many ways—it can, for example; include economic, technological, and political uncertainty—but no matter how it is defined, the model does not explicitly include it. Specifically, the model does not (1) incorporate the consequences of failure to meet milestones, (2) identify decision points at which technology development might be terminated because of cost, engineering problems, or obsolescence, (3) illustrate the cost impacts of failure or redirection of technology development, or (4) include fallback strategies. What modeling techniques might you suggest that would enable the model to incorporate probabilistic treatment yet remain tractable?
Among the arguments against including probabilistic treatment in the model are that it renders the model more difficult for decision makers to comprehend and can undermine the political ability to sell the technologies. How significant are these concerns and how can they be