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NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Handbook

Backdropped against the Earth 130 nautical miles below, astronaut Mark C. Lee tests the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system

The NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Handbook is designed to enable NASA managers to achieve mission success. Image Credit: NASA

NASA accomplishes its strategic goals through human and robotic missions, which are conducted through programs and projects. In 2006, NASA undertook a major reordering of the management structure for its program and project life cycles. The result was codified in NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 7120.5D, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements, modified in NASA Interim Directive to NPR 7120.5 D, and will be further refined in NPR 7120.5E. With the establishment of significantly revised Agency policy and requirements for program and project management, a handbook to aid practitioners in the implementation and practice of policy was needed.

The Agency-level requirements in the policy documents provide the basis of practice across the Agency. However, the scope of NASA programs and projects — from research into new ways to extend our vision into space, to designing a new crew vehicle, or exploring the outer reaches of our solar system — is vast. This handbook takes a more detailed look at the principles of how to implement those high-level requirements.

The Office of Chief Engineer chartered a team of experienced individuals from each of the NASA Centers and Headquarters to capture different perspectives from different sectors and directorates within NASA. They gathered information from experienced practitioners in the field on how to meet the challenges that occur in managing programs and projects. This handbook captures the best practices of program and project management from experienced managers, providing the continuity of that expert knowledge base.

This handbook will be updated to reflect ongoing changes in the program and project management policy requirements. In process are changes in baseline and replanning and joint confidence level policy and use of the term Unallocated Future Expenses (UFE), for example. In this handbook, the word “reserves” is used generically for resources not yet specifically allocated. The section on tailoring principles is current with the NID for 7120.5D. The guidance contained herein will help program and project managers with the “how to” of implementing NPR 7120.5 requirements.

The guidance in this handbook is supplemented by NASA’s body of requirements, policy, and standards documents and practices specified in Center documentation.