NASA Podcasts

The How-To Guide to Satellites: The Design Review
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Say you want to send a satellite from Earth--all the way to Mars! Now, it's got to get there without running out of gas, malfunctioning, or otherwise causing trouble. And if that's not enough, it's also got to sample things and send the results back to Earth. Now, that being said, it seems obvious that you can't just go building satellites all willy-nilly. Satellites are expensive little things, and you need to make sure that all your plans will work before you run out of money. This is why, before building anything, scientists and engineers hold what looks like an endless series of meetings, phone calls, telecons, tag-ups, and get-togethers, culminating in what's known as a design review. Take, for example, the MAVEN spacecraft.

Now, it's a great idea for a satellite--one that studies the upper atmosphere of Mars--but, of course, it's not good enough just to have a great idea. It needs to be reviewed, just like anything else. At this review, a whole lot of other smart people take a good, long look at the design, and hopefully, they decide they like it. If all goes well, they think that everything makes sense, the budget is in line, there isn't substantial risk involved, and now, we can move on to the next step. And once you've finished, you'll finally be able to get all the data you wanted...without any trouble.
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