Finding 3.4b. High-performance aircraft present conditions, including crew disorientation and rapid fluctuation in G-forces, under which the flight crew must carry out complex tasks in a stressful and potentially life-threatening environment. That combination of unique environments, demand for rapid, critical decision making, and historical evidence convinced the committee that SFRT provides experience-based training that cannot be duplicated by current or, to the best of the committee’s knowledge, projected alternative techniques or technologies.

Finding 3.4c. Given the current investment in the existing T-38N fleet, this fleet is the most cost-effective means of providing SFRT in the near term. In the long term, new technology that may be a more cost-effective means of providing SFRT might be demonstrated and proved.

Finding 3.4d. The size of the T-38N SFRT fleet is projected to fall to 16 aircraft in 2013.

Recommendation 3.4. NASA should retain the T-38N fleet for spaceflight readiness training and should fund the fleet at a level commensurate with the projected required size of the post-shuttle Astronaut Corps.

Learning from Other Occupations

Finding 3.5. Substantial research is being undertaken on selection and training of personnel in related high-stress occupations. Some of that work is leading to continually improving methods and technologies for training for team and individual performance in stressful high-risk situations.

Recommendation 3.5. NASA should continue to monitor training methods and technologies in related fields for possible ways to enhance the astronaut selection and training process.

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