1781. The Vital Role of Accurate Weight Estimation in Space Station Program Planning


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H C Dr. Mandell: 1781. The Vital Role of Accurate Weight Estimation in Space Station Program Planning. 1987.



The planning of the Space Station program has been technically and programmatically more complex than that of many previous NASA programs. Reasons for this are many, as well as the conflicting requirements resulting from the demands of the enormous community of potential users. To compound the problem, at the points of key decisions, NASA was in a period of leadership transition, which further contributed to program instability. Despite strong Administration and Congressional support, it is yet unclear that a Space Station program will emerge at all. This paper demonstrates only a single dimension of the planning issue, i.e., the potential uncertainties induced on program cost (and hence on program schedule planning) by errors in weight estimation, and by the absence of standards in weight and cost estimation work breakdown structures. It is shown that errors in weight estimation of the same order of magnitude as those experienced in past NASA programs will result in cost and budget errors in the order of ten to twenty percent, which in some programs would be considered reasonable. However, because of the extremely constrained nature of the Space Station program, such errors could mean delays in expected launch dates in the order of years, and hence could place the program in political jeopardy.


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