Space accidents: NTSB, FAA agree on leading investigations

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. potentially / pəˈtɛn ʃə li / (adv.) – possibly

    Patients can potentially recover faster when given a proper diet.

  2. aviation / ˌeɪ viˈeɪ ʃən / (n.) – the business of flying, designing, and controlling airplanes, helicopters, etc.

    The aviation industry suffered during the peak of the pandemic.

  3. at odds / æt ɑdz / (idiom) – to disagree with someone or something

    My brother and sister were always at odds.

  4. keep pace with (someone/something) / kip peɪs wɪθ / (idiom) – to go or make progress at the same speed as someone or something else

    Our production can’t keep pace with the increased number of orders.

  5. prioritize / praɪˈɔr ɪˌtaɪz / (v.) – to make something the most important thing in a group

    I should prioritize my health instead of work. I’ve been getting sick from working long hours.


Read the text below.

Two federal agencies agreed which one will lead investigations of accidents in the nascent commercial space business that includes launching tourists far above the Earth.

The National Transportation Safety Board will take the lead investigating accidents that involve death or serious injury or that create potentially deadly debris. The Federal Aviation Administration will handle other investigations.

The NTSB is currently the primary investigator of crashes involving airplanes and other modes of transportation but has no authority to write regulations. The FAA is the chief safety regulator for the aviation industry.

The two agencies are frequently at odds, usually when the safety board believes its recommendations are being ignored by the FAA.

The agreement announced at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston is the first to be signed by the agencies’ leaders in 22 years — before manned commercial space flights began. It also details how they will share information after an accident.

“This agreement is proof that the federal government can keep pace with the exciting advances taking place in the private sector while also prioritizing safety as we enter a new space age,” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said in a statement.

Licensed space launches have increased in recent years, with operators including SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin. They have launched civilians into sub-orbital flights and put satellites into orbit.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The NTSB and the FAA are government offices that deal with passenger safety. What is the equivalent of these agencies in your country? Do you think they are doing a good job in ensuring passenger safety? Discuss.
  • The decision regarding investigations in the case of space accidents was done before commercial space flights began. How does this affect your impression of space travel (ex. I’m more confident about it, I still don’t want to go on a trip to space)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The two agencies are frequently at odds. Do you think it’s a good idea that these agencies are working together despite their disagreements? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What would you advise the two agencies so that they can minimize disagreements? Discuss.
Category : Science/Environment