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The Value of a Space Precursor Analysis Program: A Saturn Example

[+] Author Affiliations
Joseph R. Fragola

SAIC, Rockville Centre, NY

Erin P. Collins

SAIC, New York, NY

Paper No. IMECE2003-55496, pp. 109-113; 5 pages
  • ASME 2003 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Engineering/Technology Management: Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis, Technology and Society, Engineering Business Management, and Homeland Security
  • Washington, DC, USA, November 15–21, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Engineering and Technology Management Group
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3728-9 | eISBN: 0-7918-4663-6, 0-7918-4664-4, 0-7918-4665-2
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME


There is general agreement that “near miss” or “close call” data is valuable to the space program and whenever NASA becomes convinced that such events have occurred they have acted responsibly and quickly to address them. The problem lies in defining what constitutes a near miss in a system that is inherently very complex, such that ‘abnormalities’ are actually normal occurrences, and yet one that is relatively reliable because of the inherent strengths incorporated into the design, such as robustness, redundancy, and functional diversity. The question becomes: what would the consideration of failure precursors add to the insights to be drawn from history as it relates to forecasting future performance? This paper will use the example of the Saturn program to address the problems involved in forecasting the risk in complex, yet reasonably reliable programs and to indicate preliminary approaches for use in establishing a space industry precursor program.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME



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