Situational Awareness: a Cornerstone of Operational Excellence in Space


  • Larry W. Bryant


Operating in space is, at best, a risky business. Given that it is fraught with peril, the goal of operational excellence is not just a nice-to-have objective; it becomes a mandatory, albeit unwritten, requirement. Does this mean we have to command our spacecraft flawlessly or that every maneuver imparts an exactly predictable amount of delta-V? Obviously not, but it does mean striving to be error free in commanding and trying to reduce the variance of our maneuvers as much as possible. It is an attitude in our behavior as much as it is an exactitude in our performance. A number of factors, training, experience, education, and so forth, contribute to our behavior and performance, but the one that provides the essential foundation is maintenance of situational awareness.