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  • 1. NASA PM Challenge 2011 Using Standards & Practices to Promote Engineering Excellence David Oberhettinger Office of the Chief Engineer NASA/Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2. What is a Standard?
    • Establishes uniform engineering and technical requirements for processes, procedures, practices, and methods that have been adopted as standard, including requirements for item selection and application, or criteria for its design.
    • External standards are generalized solutions to industry problems. Internal standards are specific to an organization (NASA), though they may be adapted from external standards.
    • Federal policy (OMB A119) mandates a preference for industry-wide voluntary consensus standards (VCS) over writing new government standards
    • A standard or spec imposes requirements on a NASA project only when the project calls it out (or a tailored version)
  • 3. Types of “Standards”
    • Standard
      • A requirements document that uses “shall” language
      • If imposed, projects must comply with all requirements in the document (unless the standard is tailored)
      • Frequently called out in contracts
    • Handbook
      • A guidance document that contains no “shalls”
      • Users can implement all, some, or none of the guidance
      • Not typically called out in contracts as compliance cannot be assessed
      • There are also repositories of “best practices” that have also been vetted Agency-wide, but are not formal handbooks
    • Specification
      • A detailed description of the characteristics of a specific item or material
      • NASA specs are commonly derived from military or commercial specs and modified for NASA mission applications
  • 4. Why Do NASA Standards Exist?
    • Why have 66 NASA standards/handbooks, plus many Center-specific specs, been added to the >100,000 industry standards?
    • NASA systems must meet certain requirements that are inconsistent with standards maintained by SDOs and by other government agencies
      • Unusual mission characteristics (e.g., extreme operating environments) for flight systems and some facilities
      • Some components or applications in NASA systems are unique
      • Very high unit value products that cannot easily be replaced
      • Safety considerations for NASA workforce and the public
    • Achieving consensus on NASA standards may not be a trivial task due to Center-specific and program-specific engineering practices
  • 5. Importance of Standards to NASA
    • Objective : Standards assure some uniformity of engineering and technical requirements within and between NASA programs and projects. A standard:
      • Provides a common base for interoperability
      • Captures lessons learned and new technology
      • Facilitates engineering excellence
      • (Most complex products could not be produced without use of established standards)
    • Scope : Standards and specifications are applied across the different types of NASA projects:
      • In-house design/development/fabrication by NASA Centers
      • Partnering with industry and international organizations
      • Review of contractor proposals and supplier agreements
    • Impact of non-use : projects would then be “winging it”
  • 6. Recent Developments in Standards
    • The 2008 NASA designation of 20 standards as “mandatory” for all programs/projects is being withdrawn
    • In its place, NASA OCE plans to prepare a list of “NASA-endorsed” standards
      • Intended to be used as a “pick list” of proven NASA and industry standards
    • Recent new or revised standards issued by the NASA Engineering Standards Panel (NESP) include:
      • NASA-STD-5001A, “Structural Design and Test Factors of Safety for Spaceflight Hardware”
      • NASA-STD-5005C, “Design & Fabrication of Ground Support Equipment“
      • NASA-HDBK-4002A, “Avoiding Problems Caused By Spacecraft On-Orbit Internal Charging Effects” (release pending)
      • NASA-HDBK-6015, Radiation Effects on Non-Electronic Materials (release pending)
      • NASA-STD-5008B, “Protective Coating of Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, and Aluminum on Launch Structures, Facilities, and GSE” (release pending)
  • 7. Standards: NASA Center Role
    • Institutional rules call out standards
      • Applicable to all Center programs/projects
      • Some standards are mandatory by law (e.g., OSHA, fire)
      • Assure that Center's engineering policies and practices are consistent with Agency policies and standards
    • Coordinate with other Centers to achieve interoperability
    • HQ requires Centers’ consensus on new/revised NASA standards (via Topic Working Groups (TWGs))
    • Why maintain an Engineering Standards Office?
      • Meet NASA requirements (e.g., reporting participation with VCS orgs)
      • Participation on NASA TWGs
      • Assist technical staff in obtaining documents
    • Maintain Center-specific “standards”
      • KSC and JPL each have a different torque spec
      • Contractor issues
  • 8. Standards: Project Manager Role
    • Assure appropriate agency-wide engineering standards are applied to programs and projects
    • Consider the proper application and management of discipline-specific engineering standards when baselining project requirements
    • Call out appropriate standards in Project Implementation Plan
    • Work with Procurement to impose appropriate standards on contracts
    • Request justified waivers of Agency-level requirements and standards. Review waiver requests from contractors
    • Provide oversight to assure project staff comply with standards and other project requirements
    • Identify lessons learned to be incorporated into future revisions
  • 9. Constraints on Center/PM Authority
    • NASA : Level 1 and Level 2 requirements may limit Center and project flexibility
    • Service Providers :
      • Center-owned GSE transported to KSC must be compatible with KSC standards/specs. Operations must comply with Air Force Space Command Manual 91-710, Range Safety User Requirements, Vol. 3
      • Spacecraft ops must be consistent with CCSDS space data standards
      • Limited control over standards/specs for vendor-supplied commercial products and services
    • Contractors : the PM-preferred standard may be incompatible with the contractor’s established institutional practices
    • Other Centers : Where elements of a common system are provided by different Centers, interoperability may mandate the use of non-preferred standards
  • 10. Technical Standards Repository
    • NASA Standards And Technical Assistance Resource Tool (START) at
      • Searchable, full-text, standards repository provides “one-stop” access to 1.4 million standards documents and to the products of 370 SDOs
        • Public users can download NASA-developed, DOD, Federal, and Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) standards
        • For NASA employees and many support contractors, NASA has obtained licenses from SDOs to provide standards products free-of-charge to the user
          • Many industry standards (AIAA, SAE, ANSI, ASME, ASTM, ASQC, ISO, etc.)
          • Vendor materials/parts catalogs
          • Engineering Fundamentals (efunda)
          • Materials and Processes Technical Information System (MAPTIS)
          • Aerospace Design Best Practices (ESDU)
          • 4D Online Parts Universe
          • Parts and Logistics Information (Haystack Gold)
          • Links to Center-specific specs at KSC and other Centers
  • 11. Standards Repository (Cont.)
    • (Continued)
    • Provides assured access to latest version of standards
      • Use of out-of-date standards imposes risks and misses the benefits of experience
      • Pilot test on Space Shuttle Solid Rocket subsystem
        • Of 552 standards cited, all but 124 had been cancelled or replaced
      • Standards Update Notification System (SUNS)
      • Watch Lists : User can create a grouping of standards to help manage and track key documents
        • 530 current registered users
      • Alerts : Alerts a user when changes happen to a document in a Watch List
      • (Note that NASA Lesson Learned Information System also allows users to subscribe to future releases of lessons learned.)
  • 12. Sample START Search Result
  • 13. START Usage Metrics (FY10)
    •  Document
    • downloads:
    •  Top SDOs
    Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep GOV/MIL SAE ASTM AIA/NAS ASME NASA ISO NFPA AWS Ks Ks
  • 14. Communities of Practice
    • Communities of Practice provide networks of NASA engineers exchanging information within a specific discipline
      • NASA OCE has 18 COPs, with links to best practices
        • Aerosciences  Autonomous Rendezvous & Docking
        • Avionics  Electrical Power
        • Environmental Test  Fault Management
        • Flight Mechanics  Guidance, Navigation & Control
        • Human Factors  Life Support/Active Thermal
        • Loads and Dynamics  Mechanical Systems
        • Nondestructive Evaluation  Passive Thermal Control & Protection
        • Propulsion  Software Engineering
        • Structures  Systems Engineering
      • For example, the Guidance, Navigation & Control COP references 9 best practices in areas such as “Thruster & Venting Impingement”
    • OSMA Processed Based Mission Assurance (PBMA) site offers 141 enhanced security COPs
  • 15. NASA Preferred Practices for Design & Test of Robust Systems
    • Each of the 146 Preferred Practices was vetted by the NASA Centers as an Agency-wide best practice
        • Environmental series  Engineering Design Series
        • Analysis series  Test series
      • Each practice contributed to the success of one or more NASA missions
      • Format : ~4 to 8-pages. Each defines the practice and discusses its benefits, spacecraft applications, implementation method, technical rationale, and impact of non-performance; it also lists references and related practices.
    • The site also features a set of Design Guidelines, GSE Practices, and Recommended Maintainability Techniques
    • Documents were approved in the mid-1990s: some may need updating
  • 16. Sample Practice : Thermal Design Practices for Electronic Assemblies
    • Practice:
      • “ Ensure that thermal design practices for electronic assemblies will meet the requirements of the combined ground and flight environmental conditions defined by the spacecraft mission. Special emphasis should be placed on limiting the junction temperature of all active components. Proper thermal design practices take into consideration…”
    • Benefit:
      • “ Constraining the electronic component junction temperature through proper design practices will ensure that the assemblies can withstand the mission's environmental conditions. ”
    • Programs That Certified Usage: − “ Voyager, Magellan, Galileo”
    • Center to Contact for Information: − “ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)”
    • Implementation Method:
      • “ Sound thermal design practices are followed from the conceptual stage through the final design stage. A system for doing thermal design that takes into account… Packaging design reviews should be conducted… ”
  • 17. Sample Practice : Thermal Design Practices for Electronic Assemblies
    • (Continued)
    • Technical Rationale:
      • “ A spacecraft chassis and its electronic subassemblies are designed to meet the environmental conditions encountered by the given mission. Thermal analyses of heat dissipation, junction temperature control, and the elimination of hot spots during the design phase should be provided to ensure proper thermal design. Special emphasis is placed on reducing the junction temperatures of all semiconductors to safe levels throughout the mission. ”
    • Impact of Non-Compliance:
      • “ Designs that do not follow proper thermal design practices are subject to failure and loss of the mission or science data. ”
    • Related Practices:
      • “ 1.Part Junction Temperature, Practice No. PD-ED-1204
      • 2. Thermal Test Levels / Durations, Practice No. PT-TE-1404
      • 3. Thermographic Mapping of PC Boards, Practice No. PT-TE-1403
      • 4. Thermal Analysis of Electronic Assemblies to the Piece Part Level, Practice No. PD-AP-1306”