APT is excited to continue KSC support!

APT Research, Inc. (APT) is thrilled to have been selected to continue as the provider of safety and mission assurance support services at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. APT has served as the prime contractor for this effort since 2013 and was awarded the KSC Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year in 2020.

The Safety and Mission Assurance Support Services IV contract, with an estimated five-year value of $67 million, supports NASA programs including Exploration Ground Systems, Launch Services Program, Commercial Crew Program, International Space Station, Space Launch System, and Orion. The scope of the contract includes mission assurance, engineering, and risk assessment and analysis in the disciplines of safety, reliability, and quality.

We are extremely grateful to our employee owners and teammates, including Davis Strategic Innovations, Inc., and Metis Technology Solutions, Inc., for their hard work and support on this effort. We look forward to continuing to support and assure the highest level of safety at our nation’s busiest spaceport.

Says APT CEO George Gafka, “APT is pleased to continue this critical work for KSC and the nation. This is especially important in this new era of space exploration.”

NASA News: Updated Range Flight Safety Course Improves Training Experience

APT employee-owner, Brenda Wall, was mentioned in an article from NASA OSMA (below). She was instrumental in the course update.

Image Credit: NASA

The NASA Range Flight Safety Program, with support from the NASA Safety Center (NSC), recently released an update to “Range Flight Safety Analysis” (SMA-AS-WBT-435), available in SATERN. The new training includes recent policy changes, updated materials and the new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Code of Federal Regulations Part 450 requirements. It also converts previous in-class exercises to instructor-led demonstrations.

“The new course, which is required for Range Flight Safety analysists, is much easier to digest and take over a stretch of time, as it’s broken into six modules that will take approximately 14.5 hours to complete,” said Chuck Loftin, Range Flight Safety program manager. “It reflects what we feel are the learning preferences of today. Years ago, we taught this course in-person over a week. Then, in 2013, we worked with the NSC to capture the 27-or-so hours of training and exercises for an online-learning experience. This was really progressive and allowed people to take training more easily, but it’s been almost another decade — we’ve once again evolved on how we like to take in information, as well as our tools for virtual learning. We truly believe this new approach with shorter modules and a mix of web-based demonstrations will be a better learning experience.”

One of the primary roles of Range Flight Safety is to perform flight analyses to identify and mitigate risk to the public, NASA workforce and property. This course is designed to give learners a good understanding of NASA methods in conducting Range Flight Safety analysis. While providing an overview of FAA and Department of Defense requirements, the course focuses on NASA requirements for flight safety analysis; a discussion of range operations hazards, risk criteria, and Risk Management processes; and an in-depth coverage of containment and Risk Management analyses. It covers a variety of vehicle types, including Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Unguided Launch Vehicles (sounding rockets), Guided Launch Vehicles and other unique flight vehicles at NASA centers across the country. The course concentrates on debris hazards and analyses but includes an overview of toxic, blast and radiation analyses as well.

With such a comprehensive agenda, one of the most notable changes in the new course is the exam. The 2013 course included one comprehensive exam at the end of the 27+ hours of training, while the new course includes several mini exams at key points (module conclusion) throughout the course to better enable learning over a period of time.

“The old course was monolithic with one comprehensive exam at the end of the course,” said Brenda Wall, Range Safety engineer with Safety and Mission Assurance Support Services APT at Kennedy Space Center. “Taking the previous course over weeks or months as the student’s schedule permitted was challenging because the exam was comprehensive. Now, the new course has a modular structure. Each module has its own mini exam at the end. This structure facilitates the student’s ability to progress through the course at their own pace whenever they have time.”

Each module builds off preceding ones and to receive credit, learners must complete all modules and exams. As noted, this course is required for Range Flight Safety analysts.

“It’s in NASA-STD-8719.25 as one of the requirements for Range Flight Safety analysts,” explained Wall. “This is one of the foundation courses that each of the centers use to train their Range Safety professionals, and it’s a good course for people who have to deal with Range Flight Safety and want to learn more or better understand ‘What does Range Flight Safety do for me?’ It is a different discipline; we deal within what’s called failure space: what happens if something fails. However, most people deal with success space. Everybody wants to get the mission done, get the ‘good science’ or the mission objectives accomplished, and we do too, but we want to get there safely and look at the scenarios of ‘What if something does happen? What if something does go wrong?’ We want to make sure our people are safe, our assets are safe and the environment is safe.”

Wall believes the modular structure will appeal to those trying to gain a better understanding of Range Flight Safety, especially as it pertains to their specific program or project, as they can take only the modules that affect them.

“I hope it helps open the door for people who can benefit from understanding Range Flight Safety, but who aren’t required to take the course, simply because it’s more manageable,” said Wall.

For learners who are not required to take this course and simply want a better understanding of a particular section or vehicle type, the training can be broken up and taken as individual modules, but this is not recommended.

The new course includes 27 videos, eight instructor-led demonstrations and a lot of visuals.

“It’s designed to be engaging, with a large number of photos and videos to convey key concepts and keep the topics interesting,” said Wall. “It’s been many years [since we did the last course] and we’ve morphed that into something much more web-friendly. We’ve really tailored it to the individual at a computer taking this course so they can get the most benefit from the material. It’s an evolution. We get better each time we do this.”

Questions about the course can be directed to Loftin or Wall.

Source: https://sma.nasa.gov/news/articles/newsitem/2022/08/08/updated-range-flight-safety-course-improves-training-experience

NASA News: Updates to Payload Safety Policies Supports New and Existing Programs

APT employee-owner, Jack Fitzgibbon, was mentioned in an article from NASA OSMA (below).

Image Credit: NASA

The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance enhanced the Payload Safety program to cover all payload projects. As part of this process, the program recently released a revision to NASA-STD-8719.24, NASA Payload Safety Requirements, effective March 20, 2022. This standard update followed a significant revision to NPR 8715.7B, NASA Payload Safety Program, effective April 27, 2020.

“Payloads often incorporate hazards that can pose significant risk to life and property,” said Tom Frattin, Payload Safety program manager. “These payload hazards exist regardless of the launch vehicle provider or launch vehicle procurement method. We’ve found that combined, the NASA Procedural Requirements and Standard accomplish the key technical objective of containing or mitigating the risk to the public; NASA workforce; and any property requiring protection from hazards associated with payload design, fabrication, testing, integration, processing, launch, and recovery for variety of NASA payload missions.”

This standard establishes technical safety requirements for unmanned orbital and unmanned deep space payloads that fly onboard launch vehicles. NASA and the USSF Range Safety representatives jointly developed, approved and endorsed the requirements contained in the standard and its Annex using Space Force Space Command Manual (SPFCMAN) 91-710, Range Safety User Requirements and NASA safety standards.

The NASA-STD-8719.24 revision

  • Maintains consistency with NPR 8715.7 and NPR 8715.1, NASA Safety and Health Programs
  • Reflects current revision of USSF SPFCMAN 91-710, Volumes 1, 3, 6 and 7
  • Includes changes to Volume 1, Table 3.2, Acceptability Guidelines for Launch and Recovery Sites Hazard Consequences and Probability Categories that clearly define Hazard Severity categories and outcomes, as well as monetary values under Potential Consequences
  • Reflects the adoption of ANSI/American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) S-080-2018 Space Systems – Metallic Pressure Vessels, Pressurized Structures, and Pressure Components and AIAA/S-081B-2018, Space Systems – Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs)
  • Refers to NPR 8715.26, NASA Nuclear Safety Requirements to enhance Nuclear Flight Safety (NFS), along with USSF NFS requirements
  • Has a “Select Status” option in the checklist, which requires users to select “Information,” “Not Applicable,” “Compliant,” “Tailored” or “Noncompliant” (Note: An Excel version of the checklist is available on the NASA Tech Standards website and provides the Payload Safety Working Group an efficient method for documenting rationale/comments)

Questions about the standard update can be directed to Frattin or Jack Fitzgibbon, payload safety engineer with APT at Kennedy Space Center.

Source: https://sma.nasa.gov/news/articles/newsitem/2022/08/08/updates-to-payload-safety-policies-supports-new-and-existing-programs

Heart Walk 2022

Saturday, May 14th, the Huntsville Heart Walk 2022 event was held, and it was a huge success! I want to say thank you to all who donated, participated, and supported our cause to raise funds to support the American Heart Association. Together, we raised $9,924.44 and had a great turn out! You all have made a huge difference in others’ lives to care for those with heart disease.




George Gafka named as CEO of APT

Mr. George Gafka has been named as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of A-P-T Research, Inc.

Mr. Gafka formerly served as Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation and Development Officer, and the SEAC and Aerospace Sector General Manager. Prior to joining APT Research, he had a distinguished 30-year career at NASA supporting several human spaceflight programs from a number of diverse leadership positions (Chief Engineer, Chief Safety Officer, and S&MA Director) during life-cycle phases spanning from early development to real-time operations.

Over the span of his career, Mr. Gafka received numerous prestigious awards for his leadership and, as an avid believer in continuous learning, he has earned a diverse set of academic degrees:

  • Master of Business Administration, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, 2014
  • Professional Certificate Aircraft Accident Investigation, Southern California Safety Institute, 2007
  • Master of Space Systems Engineering, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2006
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, University of Houston, 1995
  • Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1991

Mr. Gafka brings a wealth of broad technical and business management knowledge, seasoned experience across many roles and programs, proven critical decision-making judgment, and expert leadership to develop and implement innovative, tailored solutions that thoughtfully balance complex competing considerations such as cost, schedule, and safety.

Leadership Greater Huntsville #35 and the North Alabama Foster Closet Fundraiser

Photo Courtesy of Huntsville Convention and Visitors Bureau

APT is supporting the “Igniters” of Leadership Greater Huntsville (L-35 Small Group). The Igniters have partnered with North Alabama Foster Closet for a project to create a day of ‘normalcy’ and community for over 200 foster/kinship/adoptive families in North Alabama by attending either the April 16th Rocket City Trash Panda Baseball Game or Ultimate Field Trip at the US Space and Rocket Center.

In order to make these events a reality, the Igniters are counting on the generosity and spirit of charitable giving that is appreciated throughout the Greater Huntsville Area. All donations are tax-deductible as permitted with gifts made to a 501(c)(3) organization. All proceeds raised beyond our project costs, (estimated at $20,000.00), will be donated directly to North Alabama Foster Closet. Sponsorships are requested in monetary increments of $500.00, $1,000.00, $1,500.00, $2500.00 or $5000.00, however contributions of any dollar amount would be graciously accepted and helpful to our cause. Please make checks payable to: Fostering Connections, dba North Alabama Foster Closet with a note that it is for the Igniters project.

To learn more, please visit:

It is groups like this that strengthen our community!


APT Junior Council – A Fresh Perspective from Our Young Employees

At APT, we love the unique perspective we get from our Junior Council. The charter of the council is to assist upper management in decision making, to elevate APT’s goals and missions by providing fresh insight from a unique perspective.

The benefits go both ways. This group has helped to improve our recruiting tactics, streamline APT’s onboarding process, and improve community company awareness. They also help host fun events to include company picnics and social gatherings for APT employees under age 35. As an added bonus, these young employees gain valuable leadership skills through their interaction with upper management.

Thanks for all you do for APT!

APT Junior Council

From left: APT’s Junior Council officers: Sean Webb, Emma Montgomery, Gabrielle Andrew, and Lane Walden.

APT Welcomes New Board of Directors Member

New Board of Directors Member Lisa WilliamsA-P-T Research, Inc., welcomes Ms. Lisa Williams as its newest Board of Directors (BOD) member.  As a new Director, Lisa brings new perspective and business knowledge to the board as part of our effort to add outside talent to help shape the company’s future. Most of the APT BOD and many of our employees have known and worked extensively with her through the years and we have previously teamed with companies she founded.  She brings exceptional experience and thoughtful, articulate, and principled business leadership to APT.

Lisa was the co-founder and president of 3D Research Corporation from 1997-2006. The success of 3D Research was evident by their ranking in the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing companies in America three years in a row. 3D Research had 18 sites across the U.S. and internationally prior to its acquisition by the Schafer Corporation in December 2005. After the sale of 3D Research, Lisa took over as president of Systems Dynamic International in February 2011 after their president unexpectedly died.  She was able to put the company back on track for success and left SDI in March 2012.  She is currently the president of Soldier 1 Corporation.

Lisa was born in Saigon, Vietnam, on the 4th of July. She came to the United States at the age of six.

Lisa received her BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She received an Honorary PhD from the UAH School of Business in 2004. She worked as a production engineer for Morton Thiokol on several rocket motor systems, as a Systems Engineer for Wyle Laboratories supporting the International Space Station, and as a test engineer for TASC and Schafer on several missile systems before starting 3D Research Corporation in 1997.

Lisa was awarded the Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Alabama by the Small Business Administration, and was also awarded Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs of America, as well as the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce’s Executive of the Year. The Women’s Economic Development Council honored her in the technology category at their Women Honoring Women awards ceremony.  The University of Alabama in Huntsville awarded her the UAH Business Fellow Award and the Distinguished Alumnus Award. She was also named as one of the Women Who Shape the State of Alabama. And she was just recently awarded the Women of Impact Award.

Lisa is active on many boards and councils. She is on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Corridor representing the 5th Congressional District, The Committee of 100, Still Serving Veterans, the Liberty Learning Foundation, and Leadership Huntsville/Madison County.  She was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission. She is very active in mentoring and counsels many small businesses in Alabama. Lisa resides in Huntsville with her husband, Phil Williams, and son, Tyler.

New Life Mission Donation

In 2021, Florida APT employees voted to share giving funds between two organizations.

Club Esteem

Vision – Inspiring kids in our community to embrace and excel in education by providing individualized tutoring and mentorship, guiding them to becoming compassionate, college and career-ready leaders.

Brian Gloade presenting check to Ellena Little, Executive Director of Club Esteem

New Life Mission

Giving NEW LIFE to homeless women with children.

Florida Giving Fund check presentation at New Life Mission facility in Melbourne FL. Photo Stacia Glavis (right) New Life Mission Founder and SA-F Joshua Oppenheim Giving Fund POC. 

From New Life Mission:

Thank you for your gift of $1500 to help give NEW LIFE to homeless women with children!

At New Life Mission, we are on the frontlines everyday hearing from moms and their children who are experiencing homelessness. The need is growing here in Brevard County by the day! Moms and children are living in motels due to evictions; in cars due to loss of income; and on the streets due to hard times that have fallen upon them. Worst of all, they have lost hope.

BECAUSE OF YOU… HOPE IS NOT LOST! Your gift is restoring lives and helping people who have no where else to turn. Because of your giving, we stand ready to help them by providing a program that teaches valuable life skills, provides access to housing, healthcare and education and so much more.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!