Mars Surveyor Program Analysis

2362 Words 10 Pages
NASA Overview
The Mars Surveyor Program (MSP) was managed under the cheaper, better, faster paradigm at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). This corporate culture created an environment which challenged NASA engineers to develop innovative, cost saving processes when designing and developing projects. This paradigm did have drawbacks though; putting too much emphasis on decreasing cost, and failing to integrate risk management in their projects. Ultimately, this mindset led to unacceptable risk levels, but the project selection and approval process attempted to mitigate these risks.

The project selection and approval process starts with formulation, which consists of the project initiation. The project can be initiated
…show more content…
The board found that the root cause for the MCO project was an inconsistency of units between the all the sub teams on the project, which was a mission critical element. A mission critical element is defined as an aspect of the project that, if it were to fail, would disrupt the entire system and its objective. In the case of the MCO, the spacecraft engineer team and operation navigation team determined the changes in velocity within their models differed by a factor of 4.45. This is the exact conversion factor between pound-force and Newtons. Thus, the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics spacecraft operations team had used English units (lbf) instead of the specified and expected metric unit of Newtons. These values told the spacecraft to reach an initial periapsis of 57 kilometers, which was well under the threshold of a “safe” periapsis distance needed for a successful mission. Additionally, the MIB discovered eight contributing causes that ultimately lead to mission failure, …show more content…
2. “Navigation team unfamiliar with spacecraft”
The board found that the operational navigation team was not familiar with attitude operations or processing and tracking measurement data because they came into the project too late - right before launch.

3. “Trajectory correction maneuver number 5 (TCM 5) not performed”
TCM 5 was a contingency plan in place to be used if the spacecraft hit a low second periapsis, but it should have been used for the first low periapsis in this case. It was never used because of a lack of testing or understanding. It is valid to note that a contingency plan is a set of steps to anticipate a future event, which if used correctly, TCM-5 would have anticipated and corrected the course to attain a safer altitude.

4. “System engineering process did not adequately address transition from development to operations” The board also found that the were inconsistencies in the systems engineering process due to an inadequate transition from development to operations and a lack of understanding of critical operations

Related Documents