The AST safety inspection function, previously implemented under the former Licensing and Safety Division, was established as a separate division in March 2011 for the continued purpose of executing AST's Compliance and Enforcement program. Safety inspection involves the monitoring of all FAA licensed, permitted, and otherwise regulated commercial space transportation activities to ensure compliance with FAA regulations and to provide for the protection of public safety and the safety of public property. Because the FAA licenses and permits commercial space transportation operations and not vehicles, safety inspection correspondingly involves the monitoring of those public safety related pre-operational, operational and post operational activities.

The Safety Inspection Division manages the AST Compliance & Enforcement Program, AST Mishap Response Program, AST Standardization & Evaluation (Stan/Eval) Program, and the AST Safety Inspector Training Program. The Division develops and implements safety inspection procedures and guides and directs the safety inspector training program for the training, certification, and credentialing of FAA Commercial Space Transportation Safety Inspectors.

The Safety Inspection Division includes a Headquarters component and three field office locations (Vandenberg AFB, CA; Patrick AFB, FL; and Wallops Flight Facility, VA).

Compliance & Enforcement Program

AST safety inspectors monitor those pre-operational, operational and post operational phases of FAA regulated commercial space transportation activities which can impact public safety and the safety of property.

Pre-operational activities include the qualification, installation, and testing of flight safety system components; mission readiness reviews; safety compliance and support reviews, safety working groups, and planning discussions; and operational rehearsals, simulations, and exercises. Operational activities include monitoring countdown procedures; operator communication processes; procedural execution; vehicle processing and preparation; safety critical operator/launch site personnel interaction; and identifying non-nominal or public safety issues. Post operational activities include the monitoring of post operational reviews; post flight/reentry evaluations; lessons learned discussions; documenting observed compliance and non-compliance; and communicating and coordinating with operators to correct noncompliance issues.

The Division Manager administers the safety inspection process while the Enforcement Program Manager ensures proper development and maintenance of the Enforcement Program including adherence with all applicable FAA Orders and AST internal procedures.

Mishap Response Program

The Mishap Response Program is AST's interface for all mishap related activities. These activities include: mishap response and accident investigation plan reviews in support of AST license and permit evaluations; interaction with the licensee or permittee for mishap preparation and prevention; coordination and mishap response planning with FAA partners and stakeholders; development, review, and updates to AST mishap checklists; management of post-mishap activities within AST including distribution of mishap failure analyses and corrective action information for review and resolution through the Mishap Review Board.

The Mishap Response Program is also the external interface for mishap coordination and response planning to the United States Air Force (USAF) federal ranges, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), FAA Washington Operations Center (WOC), and FAA Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention (AVP).

The Mishap Response Coordinator (MRC) is the primary office of responsibility for developing, maintaining, and executing the AST Mishap Response Program.

Standardization & Evaluation (Stan/Eval) Program

The Standardization & Evaluation (Stan/Eval) Program evaluates the effectiveness of the AST safety inspection program as it pertains to the safety inspection mission and individual safety inspector duties.

The stan/eval program ensures that AST uniformly and consistently executes the provisions of the United States Statute, FAA regulations, the Division's internal procedures, and related training and support supplements developed and implemented as part of the AST Safety Inspection Division.

Stan/Eval is the primary office of responsibility for reviewing, evaluating, and maintaining all AST Safety Inspection Division internal procedures and related standardized inspection forms, templates, and documentation. The office evaluates safety inspector qualification and recommends safety inspector candidates for certification; evaluates the performance of all safety inspectors to ensure consistent application and execution of inspection procedures and practices; monitors safety inspector proficiency and certification status; develops, schedules, and implements all safety inspector training exercises; schedules all inspection assignment tasks; identifies program trends and procedural inconsistencies; evaluates subject matter expertise and equivalency; performs written evaluations of training exercises, subject matter expertise, and prior safety inspector candidate experience equivalency.

The Stan/Eval Officer administers the program and ensures frontline compliance with program objectives and protection of AST resources.

Safety Inspector Training Program

The Safety Inspector Training Program ensures safety inspectors complete a standardized, rigorous program of instruction as identified in AST internal procedures. A certification phase completes the training and qualification process and includes the issuance of safety inspector credentials for each AST safety inspector in accordance with FAA Order 8800.1A. All safety inspectors must also complete a defined series of annual and proficiency training in order to maintain certification.

The Stan/Eval Program (Stan/Eval Officer) administers and maintains the Safety Inspector Training Program.