Risk, for NASA, is anything that has the capability to effect personal life, loss or damage of system, equipment or property. A risk response plan was not extensively used as risk and failure had always been documented as an inbuilt part of space exploration. Instead, NASA used a rather simplistic Safety (Risk) Classification System. A quantitative method for risk assessment was not in place at NASA because gathering he data needed to generate statistical models would be expensive and labor intensive. If the risk identification procedures were overly complex, NASA would have been buried in paperwork due to the number of components on the space shuttle.
The necessity for risk management was apparent right from the start. Prior to the launch of the first shuttle in April of 1981, hazards were analyzed and subjected to a formalized hazard reduction process as described in NASA Handbook, NHB5300A. The process required that the credibility and probability of the hazards be determined. A Senior Safety Review Board was established for overseeing the risk assessment process. To some level, NASA used risk mitigation, risk avoidance, and risk acceptance. For the most part, the risks assessment process was qualitative. The conclusion reached was that no single hazard or combination of hazards should prevent the launch of the first shuttle as long as the aggregate risk remained acceptable.