Research Program Architecture
To the extent that research can address human health and
performance risks, the Human Research Program (HRP) provides essential
countermeasures and technologies in order to enable human space exploration.
The HRP utilizes the Integrated Research Plan (IRP), a compilation of
individual risk research plans, to address these risks which are assigned to
specific Elements within the program.
The IRP was baselined as HRP-47065, Human Research Program
Integrated Research Plan, in 2008 and is revised as required. In 2010, the
technical content of the IRP (formerly Appendix A) transitioned to a web-based format contained in the Human
Research Roadmap (HRR). The introduction and overview of each risk in the IRP continues to be maintained in the document HRP-47065.
The IRP describes the approach, and research and technology
development (R&TD) activities intended to mitigate the risks of human space
exploration. The risks-gaps-tasks-deliverables detail in the IRP is required to
ensure completeness in addressing the risks. The planned schedule to mitigate
each risk is then captured in a Path to Risk Reduction (PRR) timeline for a
specific Design Reference Mission (DRM). This timeline portrays critical work
planned to meet significant risk milestones associated with improvements in
Likelihood and Consequence (LxC) risk ratings (transitioning from red to yellow to green). While the Human
System Risk Board (HSRB) has several DRMs on which to evaluate the risks, the
HRP has developed PRRs for only the planetary DRM at this time.
The HRP utilizes various research platforms to conduct research. Ground
research occurs in laboratories and analogs that mimic a portion of the
spaceflight environment. In addition, the International Space Station (ISS) is
used to conduct research requiring the unique environment of space and serves as an analog for long-duration planetary missions. Spaceflight
data primarily identify and/or quantify physiological and behavioral changes to
the human system under microgravity conditions and can validate potential countermeasures. The use of the ISS platform is critical to obtaining the required
knowledge to build products to support longer and more challenging missions.
The HRP IRP content captured in the HRR is organized according to the following
In the HRR, the user will be able to download and view risk Evidence
Reports; review the IRP's risk, gap, task and deliverable information; and understand the
cross-integration of gaps across multiple risks, and tasks across multiple
Reviews of the accumulated evidence from medical records,
spaceflight operations and research findings are compiled into the risk Evidence Reports. The
individual risk reports make important data accessible and available
for periodic review. This evidence helps the HSRB identify
the most significant human risks in space exploration, a subset of which
comprises the risk research portfolio of the HRP. It also provides the basis
for identifying gaps and tasks in the IRP. As research work
progresses, new evidence, along with various deliverables, are generated and
contribute to the body of evidence that informs the progress of risk reduction.
Human spaceflight risks include physiological and
performance effects from the hazards of spaceflight, such as altered gravity, radiation, and hostile
environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors,
and behavioral health support. Risks and Concerns in the HRP research portfolio are
identified by the HSRB as those for which research activity is a major
component of the mitigation strategies, and are assigned to an Element within
the HRP to quantify, mitigate, or monitor.
The HSRB uses the following broad categories of Design Reference Missions (DRM) to provide flexibility in risk characterization and assessment that will be applicable to human space exploration missions yet to be defined: Low Earth Orbit, Deep Space Sortie, Lunar Visit/Habitation, Deep Space Journey/Habitation, and Planetary. A Risk has a clear likelihood and consequence supported by evidence. Risks in the IRP are assigned Likelihood and Consequence (LxC) ratings and Risk Dispositions either from
the HSRB or the HRP. The LxC ratings are assessed for two consequence categories (in-mission health and performance outcomes (Operations),
and long-term health) based on scales defined by the HSRB and have associated colors (red, yellow, green) based on where the scores fall in the risk matrix. A Concern currently does not have sufficient evidence to perform an LxC assessment or determine a risk disposition for a given DRM; the objective of the research is to seek out the evidence necessary to generate an LxC assessment.
Source: Human System Risk Management Plan – JSC 66705
These LxC ratings are tracked in the PRR as an indication of progress of research work towards risk mitigation. They serve as one of several inputs to determine the research priority of each risk, helping HRP Management make decisions and allocate resources. The HSRB also designates Risk Dispositions with the LxC scores to indicate the HSRB's assessment of the adequacy of mitigation efforts (e.g., Requires Mitigation, Accepted). HRP does not assign Risk Dispositions for the sub-risks. The only Risk Dispositions related to the HRP sub-risks are those assigned are by the HSRB for the consolidated risk. The LxC ratings and Risk Dispositions are used as a tool to communicate to Agency management the seriousness of a risk to crew health and performance and the Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer (OCHMO) position on future actions for the risk.
The HSRB maintains a risk record system for approved risk summary reports and
supporting evidence for all the risks (including those not assigned to HRP) in its portfolio. This set of information
is used by the HSRB to track and monitor the status of the risks, and to inform
its decisions. The HRP utilizes
the HSRB as a forum to communicate updates to risks resulting from HRP research and
technology development activities.
For each risk, the responsible HRP
Element identifies gaps in knowledge about characterizing the risk and ability
to mitigate the risk. Gaps represent the critical questions that need to be
answered to mitigate a risk and therefore serve to focus the areas of research
work to address risk reduction milestones. In some cases a gap may map to more
than one risk.
A task may partially or completely close a gap by better characterizing a risk
or developing mitigation capabilities to reduce the risk to an acceptable
level. In some cases, a task can address multiple gaps across multiple risks.
Tasks are solicited through NASA Research Announcements (NRA), the
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, NASA Request for Proposals,
etc. In certain unique cases, the HRP may conduct research tasks in-house if
there is insufficient time for the research solicitation or it is highly
constrained research (e.g., involves aspects of on-going mission operations).
Each task, or progression of tasks,
is designed to ultimately culminate in deliverables or products. Two
organizations are the primary customers for the HRP deliverables: OCHMO and Human Exploration and Operations
Mission Directorate (HEOMD).
Common deliverables include
recommended standards (e.g., Permissible Exposure Limits), requirements (e.g.,
flight rules), risk characterization, countermeasures, clinical practice
guidelines, and technology. Specifications for some deliverables are agreed
upon with customers of the HRP products through the use of Customer-Supplier
Agreements (CSAs). After deliverables are provided, the R&TD results are
assessed for applicable updates to the evidence base as it impacts risks, gaps
and tasks in order to achieve risk reduction goals as laid out in the PRR.
Two repositories contain human spaceflight data evidence:
- Life Science Data Archive (LSDA) - contains research
data from NASA-funded experiments.
- Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH) -
contains electronic health records (medical data) of all astronauts,
including mission data. For the LSAH, astronaut medical data are collected
per requirements in the Medical Requirements Integration Documents (MRID).
Both datasets are
available from the Life Sciences Data
contain searchable, public data. In addition, a User’s Guide includes a description of data
types (e.g., pooled, de-identified and identifiable data), data locations (by
MRID category), the process for obtaining data (via the data request form), and
a summary of applicable laws and regulations. The LSDA and LSAH repositories
are continually updated with data resulting from HRP research as well as
spaceflight missions and are available for use, as applicable.