Safety by Design in Commercial Space Transportation

Picture of Donia Cahouch

Donia Cahouch

Chief Technology Officer

In the dynamic realm of commercial space transportation

In where cutting-edge technologies and innovative concepts take flight, one thing must remain steadfast: safety. Recent developments within the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have underscored the importance of prioritizing safety above all else in the aerospace industry. At RoboSafety, we wholeheartedly endorse the “safety by design” philosophy, often encapsulated in the principle of “Safety First”, and in this blog, we will explore how it is the cornerstone of system safety engineering.


Putting Safety First

A recent meeting of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) brought to the forefront the vital message that safety should always take precedence over speed, particularly in launch mishap investigations. Amid mounting pressure from companies like SpaceX to expedite licensing approvals for new launches, FAA committee members unanimously advocated caution.

Polly Trottenberg, Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, encapsulated the sentiment perfectly when she asserted, “We’ve got to put safety first.” Drawing a parallel with the “move fast and break things” mantra often associated with Silicon Valley, Trottenberg advocated for a more responsible approach, suggesting that the FAA should be guided by a “move fast and fix things” philosophy.


RoboSafety’s Mission:

RoboSafety shares a profound commitment to safety. We understand that safety engineers are driven by a deep sense of responsibility and purpose. We recognize that the lives and well-being of individuals, as well as the protection of the environment, depend on the meticulous work of safety engineers. Their impact is immeasurable and that’s why we are resolutely dedicated to supporting their mission.

Balancing Innovation with Safety

The commercial space industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, marked by soaring launch rates and technological advancements. While companies eagerly seek expedited approvals, it is crucial to maintain a laser focus on safety.

Michael O’Donnell, the FAA’s deputy associate administrator for commercial space transportation, highlighted the importance of applying regulations reasonably. He emphasized that the tolerance for mishaps in spaceflight is vastly different from that in aviation. Space vehicles are custom-built, making the licensing process more intricate and challenging.

At RoboSafety, we understand that balancing safety and innovation is a delicate act. It’s essential to foster progress while ensuring that every step forward is taken with caution. This principle is not limited to the aerospace industry but extends to all sectors where safety is paramount.

Challenges and Collaborative Solutions

The FAA faces budgetary constraints as it navigates the surge in launch activity. One potential solution discussed within the committee is for companies to share safety data and their risk acceptance levels for specific systems. This collaborative approach could facilitate a comprehensive evaluation of safety risks and help build consensus among industry stakeholders and regulators.

The recent discussions within the FAA’s COMSTAC advisory committee serve as a compelling reminder of the paramount importance of safety in commercial space transportation. The principle of “Safety First” is not merely a slogan but a foundational philosophy that guides the industry. While speed and innovation are crucial, they must always be tempered with a commitment to safety. As the commercial space industry continues to evolve and expand, the engineering mantra of safety by design will remain the bedrock on which future successes are built.


Safety, not speed, should be the priority in launch mishap probes, FAA advisory group says By Elizabeth Howell the 









“At RoboSafety, We recognize that the lives and well-being of individuals, as well as the protection of the environment, depend on the meticulous work of safety engineers.”


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