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The safety of the mission depends on the preparation. The more precise the procedures are planned the better the risks can be analysed.
Our Safety Officer, Michael Klicker, is responsible for planning precise procedures for the field crew and analysing every step of the way. The experience of the Safety Officer is of utmost importance.
Unpredictable risks must be taken into account cautiously. Hazards, that could endanger the mission, are to be considered by the Safety Officer. There are life threatening risks and especially these have the highest priority in analysis.
Which safety issues have to be considered in an international OeWF Mars analog mission?
Michael: The primary goal is to make sure nobody gets hurt during the mission and key equipment is not lost due to accidents/malfunctions. The key challenge is to satisfy real-world safety needs while not impeding the simulation. The vision for the future is to incorporate as much safety aspects as possible into the mission as part of the sim (which would in turn increase simulation fidelity).
How many people, authorities and offices were involved in the AMADEE-18 in Oman?
Michael: As safety aspects touch many of the procedures and the mission setup itself, basically everyone is involved – even if not everyone is always conscious of the fact. As we do not operate many genuinely dangerous technologies during missions, authority involvement stays very limited. Mainly the medical safety aspects and specific items such as cargo clearance for batteries or drone operations for example touch upon regulatory authorities – those aspects are part of the safety planning beforehand and are addressed together with management and our BME staff.
Regarding the range of complexity, which events before, during and after a mission have great impact on your stress level?
Michael: Missions with experimental equipment which is often improvised or laboratory grade always exhibit an increased intrinsic risk to them. Major accidents in the field or a CODE RED situation would certainly raise my pulse. But our risk identification procedures and safety management in place give me confidence that we are not running a dice during the mission. Plus, all the crew involved is aware of risks not least through many discussions we have before the mission for example during the dress rehearsals.
As the Safety Officer, how do you deal with the sole responsibility of the many people involved with the Mars simulation?
Michael: One of the things essential to the job of safety officer in every domain in order not to go crazy about all the potential hazards is to see things from the risk perspective. The aim of safety is not to prevent any and all risks (which would be impossible anyway) but to reduce the risks to a level where trained individuals such as our crews can handle them. In that sense, we all carry responsibility to the safety of a mission – it’s not me alone. Also, risk acceptance rests not only with the safety officer but also ÖWF program management. We all work together to ensure a smooth and safe mission execution. This gives me confidence that we don’t overlook major risks and have thought trough possible contingencies.
Finally, I trust in our people’s ability to stay within the procedures and experiment constraints as established during the preparation phase and the training of our crew in case of a safety issue.
This article is available in: German
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