Andy receiving a memento for presenting the Plenary

Andy Quinn at the 8th IAASS Conference, Florida USA

8th IAASS Conference – Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, USA (18-20th May)

The conference commenced with an introduction from the IAASS President, Isabelle Rognier (seen further below with Andy at the Gala Dinner) and she played an IAASS-complied video of pretty much all space accidents since the last conference 18 months ago (which was also nicely balanced with successes/new projects during this period). There have been quite a few accidents ranging from Space-X launch failure, to Orbital Sciences, Russian Proton vehicle failures and the SpaceShip2 accident. Isabelle concluded that we need better standards and guidance because in the space community, one accident is everybody’s accident.

Keynote Speakers

The conference was blessed with the following keynote speakers:

Roberto Battiston (President Italian Space Agency), Kiyoshi Higuchi (President International Astronautics Federation and VP ret. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Jan Droz Deputy Director of Safety, Security and Environment French Space Agency (CNES)), Guy A. Boy (Dean School of Human Centred Design, Innovation and Arts, Florida Institute of Technology)

Charles Bolden (Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Andrew M. Mueller (Chief of Safety United States Air Force), George Nield (Associated Administrator Federal Aviation Administration for Commercial Space Transportation), Jules Schneider (Orion Program, AIP Manager Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company), Christophe Chicher (Head of System Design and Performance Airbus DS)


As usual there were many parallel sessions to choose from and there were excellent presentations from ‘safety by design’ and launch safety to Space & Air Traffic Management and of course Commercial Spaceflight Safety.

Andy presented SABRE – An Enabler for Space Access.

Andy demonstrating a cutaway of the Sabre engine itself

Andy demonstrating a cutaway of the Sabre engine itself

Andy also presented a paper on the SpaceShip2 accident in relation to safety and human factors.

Kathryn Wilson (NTSB) gave an in-depth presentation on the SpaceShip2 accident and she was joined by Todd Ericson for the questions.

Kathryn Wilson presenting on the Spaceship2 accident.

Kathryn Wilson presenting on the Spaceship2 accident.


A special mention must go to Chuck Lauer who gave an excellent hour-long presentation (S035) on the ‘A Global Perspective On Suborbital Commercial Human Spaceflight Safety’; here he gave an overview on where the suborbital industry is at including vehicles and spaceports.

Chuck Lauer at the 8th IAASS

Chuck Lauer at the 8th IAASS


Commercial Human Spaceflight Safety Panel

This panel discussed the merits of standards & guidelines and possible Space Safety Institute. It was a pleasure to have Todd Ericson (Virgin Galactic Head of Safety & Test) on the panel to hear his thoughts on this important topic.

Closing Plenaries

Andy presented Reaction Engine’s SABRE and Skylon and this was followed by Hypersonic, Space Transit, and Space Access Flight Test by Lockheed Martin’s Timothy Jorris.

Gala Dinner

The Gala Dinner was held at the Kennedy Space Centre. Aperitifs and excellent Antipasti was held next to Space Shuttle Atlantis(awesome), after an impressive video of Atlantis in the Dome.

Post conference reception held next to Space Shuttle Atlantis

Post conference reception held next to Space Shuttle Atlantis

We then went to a separate hall for the dinner. After the awards ceremony with excellent recipients including Bll Ailor, Ram Jakhu and Professor Nancy Leveson (a previous Technical Committee Chair), Andy received a memento for presenting the Plenary on behalf of Reaction Engines.

Andy receiving a memento for presenting the Plenary

Andy receiving a memento for presenting the Plenary

IAASS Suborbital Safety Guidance Manual – Issue 1 out now

Part of the work being done by the IAASS Suborbital Safety Committee (chaired by Saturn SMS MD Andy Quinn) involves collaboration on a Safety Guidance Manual for the industry.

Issue 1 of the manual is available now, and represents a bold first step in codifying and formalising best practices for the suborbital spaceflight industry.

You can download the manual directly here: IAASS Suborbital Safety Guidelines Manual_Issue 1_May2014

6th IAASS – Montreal, Canada

Looking ahead to the annual IAASS conference we’re pleased to annouce Andy will co-present a summary of suborbital standards & guidelines. Andy is also the Co-Chair of three commercial human spaceflights sessions. The full conference programme is available here [pdf 432k].

5th IAASS Conference in Versailles

The SSTC poster

The 5th IAASS ( Conference was hosted in Versailles, Paris this time and the theme of the conference was ‘A Safer Space for a Safer World’. The conference introduction to set the theme was as follows:

The fifth IAASS Conference “A Safer Space for a Safer World” is an invitation to reflect and exchange information on a number of topics in space safety and sustainability of national and international interest. The conference is also a forum to promote mutual understanding, trust, and the widest possible international cooperation in such matters. The once exclusive “club” of nations with autonomous sub-orbital and orbital space access capabilities is becoming crowded with fresh, and ambitious new entrants. Commercial spaceports are being planned and built, while some of the old ones are changing hands from government to private and commercial management.

In the manned spaceflight arena a commercial market may start finally to emerge with personal spaceflight and (government) demand for private cargo and crew transportation services to orbit. Besides the national ambitions in space, the international cooperation both civil and commercial is also gaining momentum. In the meantime the robotic space exploration will accelerate and with it the need to internationally better regulate the necessary usage of nuclear power sources. Space bound systems and aviation traffic will share more and more a crowded airspace, while aviation will increasingly rely on safety-critical services based in near-space. Finally, most nations own nowadays important space assets, mainly satellites of various kinds and purpose, which as for human missions are under the constant threat of collision with other spacecraft and with the ever increasing number of space debris. Without proactive and courageous initiatives we risk to negate access and use of space to future generations. Awareness is increasing internationally (as solemnly declared since decades in space treaties) that space is a mankind asset and that we all have the duty of caring for it.

The fifth IAASS Conference will in addition dedicate a set of specialised sessions to three topics which need to get better attention in space programs: Space Debris Remediation, International Space Traffic Control, and Commercial Human Spaceflight Safety. Active removal from orbit of “dead” satellites and spent launcher upper stages, and international coordination of space traffic are mandatory for safe orbital operations, and for the safety of the public on ground. Instead the safety of commercial human spaceflight is a critical element for the expansion, and perhaps even continuation, of human spaceflight. The success of commercial spaceflight will be determined by a substantially higher level of safety and not solely by cost reductions”.

The conference was attended by 211 members who enjoyed three days of excellent presentations and of particular interest to Saturn SMS were the Commercial Spaceflight presentations. On the second day Andy presented his paper ‘New Safety Model for the Commercial Spaceflight Industry’  and he then Chaired the Suborbital Safety Technical Committee (TC) in a closed session with the TC members [poster available as a pdf]. Then in the evening the Gala Dinner was held in the Vaux de Cernay Abbey where the architecture was simply stunning and the food was quite good too. The final day provided more interesting presentations and culminating in a Commercial Spaceflight Panel which Andy introduced; the co-chairs were Ed Mango (NASA Commercial Crew Programme) representing the orbital field and Chuck Lauer (Rocketplane XP) representing the suborbital field.

In summary the conference was a huge success and provided a great opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues in the industry. The 6th IAASS location and date was announced and so we look forward to a trip to Montreal, Canada in May 2013. In the meantime the Suborbital Safety TC will be working hard to define guidelines and best practice as per the identified objectives.

The Suborbital Safety Technical Commitee