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Design Process Error-Proofing: Lessons From and Challenges for NASA

[+] Author Affiliations
Lawrence P. Chao, Kosuke Ishii

Stanford University

Irem Tumer

NASA Ames Research Center

Paper No. IMECE2005-79451, pp. 243-253; 11 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Design Engineering, Parts A and B
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4215-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


This report describes the state of design observed at NASA and collaborative research between NASA and Stanford University into improving design practices. Just as there are many types of missions and projects, there are many types of design practices and reviews at NASA. Through exploration of the NASA life-cycle across the organization and deeper case studies of specific missions, the goal of this work is to identify best practices and lessons learned from NASA’s review experience, benchmark against industry techniques, and develop methodologies to improve the process. By introducing design process error-proofing methods based on FMEA and QFD into the NASA framework, more robust corrective actions and solutions can better detect and prevent design errors. This paper demonstrates the methods through retroactive exploration and implementation on the Mars Climate Orbiter.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Design , Errors



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