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Migrating the development of complex aerospace systems toward commercial practices

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3 Author(s)
Kwon, D.W. ; Orbital Sci., Dulles, VA, USA ; McGovern, M.J. ; Caporossi, P.N.

Some of the common themes throughout this are as follows. 1) The first is to emulate a commercial SATCOM architecture. Adapting a commercial equilibrium point requires compromise between commercial best practices and MIL standards. Emulating insurance is also an alternative which may require a warranty through the early-failure period. Dividing capability among multiple satellites and biasing complexity to the ground segment enables incremental control of on-orbit capacity. 2) The second theme is the development of program documentation in advance of system acquisition. Key documents would allow for government oversight in design, manufacturing, and test. 3) The third theme dealt with developmental items. It is important for early identification of developmental items through an equipment qualification status review and to treat developmental items differently. Including a small amount of developmental scope is possible in an overall fixed-price contract, though a challenge is to ensure that FAR Part 12 allows for this small amount of development. Mutually agreed pre-defined categorization methods and a test plan will mitigate risks. Long lead developments need to be completed prior to the start of a program, however selected flight qualification activities may be conducted in parallel with system acquisition. 4) Finally, the theme of migrating toward a commercial equilibrium point is accelerated by standardizing a large portion of the spacecraft and utilizing modular payloads. Developing a hardware specification prior to the official program start and implementing as many threshold and objective requirements helps to mitigate requirements creep. Bridging the gap between commercial and complex government aerospace systems is possible by executing contracts with a specification. The common theme throughout is not only apply to communications satellites, but can also be extended to other government mission areas.

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 8 )

Date of Publication:

August 2012

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