Standard Spacecraft Procurement Analysis

A Case Study in NASA-DOD Coordination in Space Programs

by Elwyn Harris


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Examines organizational and procurement issues surrounding NASA-DOD cooperation for a specific case study--DOD use of NASA standard spacecraft. Space shuttle operation, as the U.S. standard launch vehicle for both NASA and DOD payloads, refocuses attention on NASA-DOD cooperation. Use of standard spacecraft designs offers reduced operational costs, but intensifies the difficulty of determining agency needs and responsibilities while retaining mission responsiveness. A modified system-impact-assessment approach compares total costs of alternative procurement options and applies both sensitivity and a fortiori analyses to manage uncertainty. Principal conclusions are: use of a new standard spacecraft design, rather than any original NASA or DOD designs, provides the basis for minimizing the cost of the Air Force Test Program; factors essential to NASA-DOD cooperation are a common subset of missions, a common organization responsibility, and an extensive period of time to develop the organizational mechanics; and the successful NASA-DOD cooperation model is not easily transferred to other situations.

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