“ABORT! ABORT!” - Applied Human Factors for Time-sensitive, Safety Critical Systems

Air date: November 14, 2017

A team of human factors researchers from NASA Langley Research Center have completed a four-month study aimed at improving the user interface of the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) Safety Critical Range Data Display System (RDDS) used to support arm/destruct decisions during launch operations. WFF representatives reached out to Langley's Crew Systems and Aviation Operations Branch (CSAOB) for assistance in the area of user interface design, and the resulting study was funded by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC). Lisa Rippy (D2), Ron Daiker (D318), Rania Ghatas (D318), and Michael Vincent (D318) have been collaborating with WFF personnel to develop data driven, user-centered software requirements in support of the WFF software re-design effort. The LaRC research team was invited to brief their findings to WFF Range and Safety leadership on August 9, 2017. Representatives from WFF commended the LaRC research team for their efforts and expressed interest in an on-going partnership between LaRC and WFF throughout the design, development, and fielding of the new Launch Termination System Software.

This presentation will focus on the applied human factors methods and techniques employed to respond to this request for assistance within the agency, and the lessons learned from this study. As ambassadors for the human factors discipline, practitioners should always be prepared to answer the call for assistance from others both within and outside of the agency. The ability of HF practitioners to effectively represent the discipline and add value to a project is critical for the future growth and sustainment of the discipline. The role of applied human factors within the agency will also be discussed, along with recommendations which would benefit similar efforts in the future.

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