The goal of this research is to critically examine the nexus of risk management, decision-making, and knowledge management in an integrated framework, or triad. This research will examine this framework through the lens of managers in both human and scientific spaceflight missions at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is intended to expose how coupling risk, knowledge and decision-making improve chances for mission success while potentially averting mishaps. Historical case studies of NASA Programs will be used to validate this assertion. Common risk management and knowledge management processes will be examined as enablers for risk-informed decision-making, particularly for residual risk acceptance decisions. Decision-making under normal programmatic conditions as well as during anomalous or mishap-related conditions will also be assessed.Residual risk acceptance decision-making might be considered a special case of a requisite decision analysis model. In the context of NASA programs and projects these decisions are made throughout the lifecycle. They take on special significance however in the context of human spaceflight missions such as whether to: proceed with human-tended test and evaluation, to launch, or to respond to an off-nominal condition on-orbit. Finally, this dissertation offers a checklist for use by managers to improve residual risk acceptance decision competency within an organization.
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