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Building the Team - In-House Hardware Development
August 6, 2009

Case Study: The Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator

[image-62]As NASA has gone through the process of assigning work on the Constellation program to all of its Centers, a great deal of thought and planning has gone into ensuring that NASA engineers have opportunities to get hands-on experience that will enable them to develop critical expertise in project management and systems engineering. NASA's stakeholders are also very aware of the Agency's need to develop these capabilities. In its 2007 report Building a Better NASA Workforce: Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration, a subcommittee of the National Research Council's Space Studies Board concluded that:

"...the salient requirement was the need for junior-level members of the workforce - including current and potential employees - to gain hands-on experience that would satisfy one of the perennial issues facing the agency: the need for highly skilled program/project managers and systems engineers."

The case of the Ares I-X Upper Stage Simulator integrated product team (IPT) at Glenn Research Center is one of many efforts NASA has made in recent years to build up its in-house capability in space flight project management and engineering. Prior to the initiation of the U.S. Space Exploration Program in 2005, Glenn's primary focus had been on research rather than space flight projects. The Upper Stage Simulator is one of several projects that have helped expand the capabilities of the center as well as its workforce. It called for refurbishing facilities, restructuring organizations, and most importantly, developing people in roles that stretched them in new directions.

At the suggestion of project manager Vince Bilardo, the Upper Stage Simulator IPT participated in this case study effort in real time, beginning in Phase B and continuing right up until the hardware was shipped to Kennedy for integration and testing. This ensured that the team had opportunities to reflect on lessons learned while still in development. Building in time to think is a practice worth emulating.

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Construction of a portion of the Ares 1-X Upper Stage.
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Page Last Updated: October 10th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator