NASA developed and instituted an independent technical authority process after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident occurred. The technical authority model is designed to develop policy and procedural requirements and standards for program and project management when applicable and appropriate.
In the video above, Dr. Richard Williams, the former NASA Chief Health and Medical Officer, talks about the background of NASA’s Technical Authority development and, specifically, the Health and Medical Technical Authority.
In the video below, David Liskowsky, who was the Director for Medical Policy and Ethics within the Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA, discusses the NASA Health and Medical Technical Authority resources and how they are organized to function and manage human programs and projects across the agency.
Some video key learning points from the two videos:
Technical authority was developed and instituted at NASA after the Columbia accident based on recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The concept was originally developed and matured in the U.S. nuclear navy. There are three technical authorities at NASA: Safety and Mission Assurance, Engineering, and Health and Medical Technical Authority.
Health and Medical Technical Authority develops exposure standards to control the hazards of spaceflight as well as medical qualification standards that are used for space vehicle design.
Health and Medical Technical Authority, Engineering Technical Authority, and Safety and Mission Assurance Technical Authority all work to make sure that the final products are in compliance with the NASA standards and requirements for vehicle design and program execution.
The technical authority concept is designed to establish an infrastructure within NASA that provides independent and technically skilled programmatic authority that is not subject to the program’s cost and schedule pressures. Health and Medical Technical Authority is focused on human spaceflight and is located at NASA Johnson Space Center, but not all components of human spaceflight programs and projects are being developed at Johnson Space Center.
Health and Medical Technical Authority has an agreement with Engineering Technical Authority and Safety and Mission Assurance Technical Authority to provide notification and awareness of any health and medical issues they come across at the various centers that are working on human spaceflight programs and projects.